New Delhi: With most accused persons in the Bulandshahr mob violence case belonging to Hindutva-affiliated organisations, the Bharatiya Janata Party may have to face the heat from its own allies in Uttar Pradesh.
The first sign of a probable political crisis reflected in how O.P Rajbhar, one of the most important allies of the Adityanath government, responded to the incident.
“This is a pre-planned conspiracy by the VHP, Bajrang Dal and RSS; now police is even naming some BJP members. Why protest happened on the same day as Muslim Ijtema event? (sic)” the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) leader was quoted as saying to ANI.
Bulandshahr, a town in western UP, witnessed a mob led by Hindutva activists attack the police over a case of alleged cow slaughter. One police officer was killed and many were left injured in the incident. The mob also held the highway hostage even as it protested flashing their firearms.
That the protest over a polarising issue like cow slaughter occurred at a time when lakhs of Muslim pilgrims had congregated in the town for a religious event fueled suspicions that it could be a premediated conspiracy to stoke tension between communities.
With an important UP minister speaking up against the BJP, such theories may get further attention.
The alliance with Rajbhar, who is currently the minister of the Department of Backward Classes Welfare and the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disability helped the BJP consolidate a significant population of Rajbhars, a Dalit community, in the eastern part of the state.
However, in the last few months, the Dalit leader has frequently been making his discomfort clear with the Adityanath government’s hardline positions.
Recently, he objected to the state government’s persistent efforts to Hinduise the names of cities and towns in the state. He said the BJP should first change the names of its Muslim leaders before altering the historical names of UP’s towns.
In another such instance, he criticised Adityanath’s statement that “Hanuman” was a “Dalit”, likening it to division of Gods into caste groups.
Earlier, he criticised the Modi government’s decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes.
However, Rajbhar’s statement alleging that the BJP and other Hindutva organisations may have been involved in a criminal conspiracy is a new low in the relationship between Rajbhar and BJP.
The police’s initial findings in its investigation on the Bulandshahr violence has given credence to Rajbhar’s allegations.
News 18 reported that police officials, district administration officials and eyewitnesses pointed out that the mob may have conspired to attack the police to stoke communal tensions in the region.
The report quoted tehsildar Rajkumar Bhaskar, who was at the Mahav village when the violence broke out. He said, “Dead cow meat was hanging in a sugarcane field. Head and skin of a cow hung as if they were clothes on a hanger. It is strange because anybody who would indulge in cow slaughter would not put it out for display knowing the situation in the state. It was visible from far away.”
He added that members of the Hindu Yuva Vahini, Shiv Sena and Bajrang Dal suddenly appeared on the spot and started agitating. “The crowd then loaded the carcass on a tractor and tried to take it towards Bulandshahr-Garhmukteshwar State Highway to protest,” the report noted.
Bulandshahr district magistrate Anuj Jha also told News 18 that he received information around 11 am on December 3 that “around 15-20 cow carcasses were were recovered by residents of Chingravati” and that people were carrying these in “tractors and other vehicles to state roads” and the police station.
Police have arrested four people, all belonging to Hindutva organisations. Yogesh Raj, the 22-year-old Bajrang Dal leader and also the prime accused in the case, is still absconding.