Beginning with Mohammad Akhlaq, whose mob lynching left the country shocked, to Junaid, a young teenager who was stabbed, cow and beef have become weapons of mass destruction.
Most recently, cow slaughter was at the center of Bulandshahr violence which claimed the lives of two men, one a Hindu law abiding police officer.
Violence continues to be instigated and orchestrated in the name of religious sentiments and emotions in India. Be it after the demolition of Babri Masjid (1992,) Godhra train burning and subsequent riots (Gujarat carnage 2002,) Kandhamal in 2008 or love jihad (Muzzafarnagar 2013,) violence catches both minorities and majorities its trap.
It always begins with spreading hatred making everyone consume the communal poison before triggering it to unleash violence.
In the last few years, violence has been related to a clear case of cow politics. Be it consumption, rearing, transporting or grazing, communities involved in animal husbandry, especially cows, have been targeted and tortured. Beginning with Mohammad Akhlaq, whose mob lynching left the country shocked, to Junaid, a young teenager who was stabbed, cow and beef have become weapons of mass destruction. Most recently, cow slaughter was at the centre of Bulandshahr violence which claimed the lives of two men, one a Hindu law abiding police officer.
The tragedy exposed the underbelly of communal violence, which not just swallows religious minorities into its orbit but also the majorities. The violence that minorities face doesn’t evoke such a reaction because majorities don’t become a big collateral damage. In Bulandshahr, the victim was an upper caste Hindu man and an officer of the state police. Although the SIT probe report is not out yet, chilling details compiled from news reports is frightening enough.
At the beginning of December 2018, a large congregation of Muslims gathered for Ijtema in Bulandshahar. About 5 million Muslims participated in it. These congregations keep taking place at different locations in the country.
Nearly 70 km away from this Ijtema, the incident of shooting the policemen and mob violence took place at Sayana village, Bulandshahr. It was reported that over two dozen cow carcasses were spotted in a field which enraged the local Hindutva elements.
The villagers reported the carcasses to the police which promised to initiate actions as per the law. When the carcass was being loaded in a tractor and being taken away, a mob of 4-50 youngsters descended on the village and overpowered the tractor.
They destroyed property and shot at the officer. Some reports say that cow remains were thrown in the field by Bharatiya Janta Morcha and Bajrang Dal. Other reports and videos suggest that the incident was orchestrated by outsiders.
The youth took the tractor to the police station, lodged the FIR and created a ruckus. Yogesh Raj, a local chief of Bajrang Dal, who lodged the FIR, was booked as the prime accused in the incident. Various versions are in the air. What followed led to the death of Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh in a brutal manner.
Sudarshan TV’s, Suresh Chavhanke, the right wing channel close to RSS, tried to link up the violence to the Muslims Ijtema. As per Chavhanke’s tweet, the violence was orchestrated by the Muslims participating in the Ijtema. This was countered by the police authorities who tweeted that the incident had nothing to do with the Itjema whatsoever, which took place far away and was a peaceful event.
Many other conspiracy theories were floated. One is that a person named Jitendra Malik, who is part of Rashtriya Rifles posted in Kashmir, was present at the spot and was the main culprit in the violence. His elder brother denied the charge and promised to prove the innocence of his brother.
Malik was brought back from his duty in Kashmir, but nothing much seems to have been proven about his complicity. The usual question is who did it?
Before that let’s see the revealing facts related to the Inspector, SHO, who as per his sister was killed in a planned manner. Subodh Singh was the one who had investigated the Mohammad Akhlaq lynching case leading to the arrest of many culprits. It is said that it was he “who always took the right stand especially on Hindu-Muslim issues”.
Probably he was not letting Hindutva groups have their divisive ways. The local unit of BJP related organizations had written to the officials demanding Singh’s transfer. The other highlights related to the incident are mixed and disturbing. One is that many who had come to attend the Ijtema were sheltered in the Shiva Temple. In fact, stranded devotees had requested the temple premises for a place to conduct Namaz and the temple happily obliged.
SHO Singh’s teenager son appealed for peace and harmony in the area. He said, “I would appeal to the entire country, please stop this Hindu-Muslim violence. People get violent at the slightest provocation. People should understand and think that they are bound by the law.” In response, the DSP in a moving Facebook post stated that “I salute Abhishek who even after losing his father is not speaking the language of hatred and violence.”
On the other side, the Chief Minister of UP, Mr. Adityanath, in the aftermath of this tragedy, commented that incidents related to cow slaughter are increasing and need to be curbed. This ‘Cow-Primacy’ got reflected in the statement of BJP MP who advised the investigating team to examine whether SHO came under attack because he failed to check the cow slaughters and cow smuggling in the region.
The murder of Singh, a serving police official is, relegated to the second place in the Yogi-BJP scheme of things. These are disturbing signs of times where the politics is being dictated by Modi-Yogi, in which emotive issues are taking precedence over human lives and these incidences don’t disturb them as long as they serve their political agenda of polarization.
Meanwhile, a cloud of insecurity hangs over the village where the incident took place. The villagers repeatedly affirmed that they had withstood all the communal incidents like Babri demolition violence, Muzzafarnagar violence, etc. but were now afraid for their safety and felt insecure in the spaces they had peacefully occupied for decades.
In the pattern and trajectory that such violence follows, it seems that Bulandshar was yet another planned violence. Incidentally, where the victim came from the majority community, an unusual victim of cow politics.