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Communalism

Garlands, Chants of 'Jai Shri Ram', 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' Welcome Bulandshahr Accused Out on Bail

Shikhar Agarwal and Jeetu Fauji are are greeted and hugged by a succession of people, who are seen posing for photographs with them in a viral video.

Chants of “Jai Shri Ram,” “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and “Vande Mataram” greeted the accused of the Bulandshahr violence case as they emerged from jail after being granted bail on Saturday evening. Videos of the effusive welcome have been shared widely across social media sites.

In the video tweeted by the news agency ANI (above) two of the seven key accused, whom Indian Express has identified as Shikhar Agarwal and Jeetu Fauji, can be seen being garlanded multiple times. They are greeted and hugged by a succession of people, who also pose for photographs with them. Agarwal was identified as a Bharatiya Janata Party leader by News18.

Agarwal was last of the prime accused in the case. Police officials had said that he was involved in instigating the crowd that resulted in clashes and the two killings on December 3, 2018.

The Bulandshahr violence was yet another instance of cow politics, where what began as a skirmish over allegations of cow slaughter soon escalated into a riot-like situation. An inspector-rank officer, Subodh Kumar Singh, and a 21-year-old BJP activist, Sumit, were killed. Agarwal had, in the aftermath, uploaded videos on social media claiming innocence and blamed Singh for his own death.

The incident occurred at a time when lakhs of Muslims had been travelling to Bulandshahr for a Tablighi Jamaat’s ijtema (religious gathering).

Also read| Timeline: How the Bulandshahr Violence Unfolded

A group of people allegedly found remains of a dead cow strewn across farms in Bulandshahr’s Mahav village. Soon after, a group, led by activists from fringe Hindutva groups, blocked the highway that passed through the village.

The group then proceeded to the nearest police chowki (sub-station) in Chingravathi village to report the alleged incident of cow slaughter, which is illegal in Uttar Pradesh. The group refused to leave the premises until the police lodged an FIR on the issue.

When a bigger crowd started to gather, police personnel from the main police station in nearby Siyana village arrived. In the clash that ensued, the police opened fire and the crowd pelted stones. A few in the mob also allegedly fired at the police.

Two FIRs have now been filed by the Uttar Pradesh police, one related to the alleged cow slaughter, and the other against a number of people from three villages who participated in the mob violence against police. Express quoted the personnel who headed the special investigation team constituted to probe the incident as saying that the seven who got bail had been held for their involvement not in the murders but in the related case of arson.