Was a Muzaffarnagar-like conspiracy behind the Bulandshahr violence?

Sharat Pradhan
Sharat PradhanDec 05, 2018 | 14:07

Was a Muzaffarnagar-like conspiracy behind the Bulandshahr violence?

Monday’s violence that broke out in Bulandshahr district of Western UP, leaving two, including a cop, dead and one civilian injured, appears to be the result of a deep-rooted conspiracy.

Blow by blow, as the mystery behind the sudden rampage was unfolding, it is becoming increasingly evident that there was some kind of a vicious design to incite communal frenzy on the lines of the infamous Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013.

The riots, which left as many as 67 dead and tens of thousands of people uprooted from their homes, eventually helped to play up the politics of polarisation that gave BJP a big boost at the hustings in 2014. The party bagged 73 of the 80 seats in the country’s most populous and politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh.

While it was a simple incident of alleged eve-teasing that snowballed into the Muzaffarnagar riots, it was the story of an alleged cow-slaughter that gave rise to the violence in Bulandshahr – a city as communally volatile as its neighbouring Muzaffarnagar.

muzzafarnagar1_120518091311.jpgMuzaffarnagar riots (2013) had left 67 people dead and tens of thousands uprooted from their homes. (Photo: PTI)

If the two sides involved in the Muzaffarnagar incident were Hindus and Muslims, the mischief-mongers (reportedly mostly belonging to the Bajrang Dal) in Bulandshahr were leaving no stone unturned to blame it all on Muslims who had gathered in one corner of the village to participate in a three-day religious event (Ijtima).

“Lakhs of Muslims had gathered in the village, where the local Hindu temple offered space to them to take the spillover; but they went to the extent of indulging in cow slaughter and thereafter gunning down the local police inspector”, reportedly roared Ajay Gautam, a spokesman of 'Hum Hindu', a self-styled Hindutva organisation on the TV-18 network. That the Yogi Adityanath government chose to apparently play ball became quite evident when a senior police official told a press conference in Lucknow on Monday evening that the Muslim gathering drew a crowd of 15 lakhs.

The figure sounds exaggerated as the entire village is stated to be not big enough to accommodate such a mammoth crowd. What is being suspected is that some hardcore Hindutva organisations were out to ignite a Hindu-Muslim conflict in the area and conveniently pass the blame onto the Muslims.

Local VHP and Bajrang Dal leaders were the first ones to go to the police station with their complaint against what they perceived as 'cow-slaughter'. While the cops, led by the now slain SHO Subodh Kumar Singh, were in the process of registering the necessary FIR, some Bajrang Dal activists brought remains of some carcasses of cows in a tractor-trolley that was placed in the middle of the Bulandshahr-Delhi highway. They also began to pelt stones at the police station. The cops were taken off-guard and the SHO was reportedly hit by a stone on his head, leaving him bleeding profusely. Since the crowds were swelling, the cops thought it best to rush their SHO for treatment; they somehow managed to get into their jeep and drive away through the heavy stone-pelting. They could barely cover a short distance though when they were intercepted by the crowds again. The barrage of stones continued on the police vehicle, followed by gunshots, leaving the cops completely cornered. Soon a bullet, fired from a close range, reportedly pierced the inspector’s head, while the other cops ran for their lives.

It was only after reinforcements arrived that the violent mobs dispersed.

Meanwhile, they allegedly ransacked the police station and caused irreparable damage to police vehicles and property.

Top cops who were initially going soft on the Bajrang Dal and the VHP finally decided to book some of the local leaders – including the Bulandshahr district Bajrang Dal chief Yogesh Raj – when they realised that the frenzied mob reportedly led by them had taken the life of a man in khakhi. However, of the 27 persons named in the FIR, there were seven Muslims too. Four of these were arrested on Tuesday.

cop-copy_120518091117.jpgThe Bulandshahr rampage also took the life of police inspector Subodh Kumar. (Photo: Facebook)

It is also being said that the saffron brigade was trying to pressure the police to somehow weaken the case against the senior Bajrang Dal and VHP leaders, so that they could get easy relief from the courts. Left to the political bosses, their demand would be conceded. However, there is much resistance from the police ranks, where anger is brewing against the killing of a member of their fraternity.

Meanwhile, chief minister Yogi Adityanath is trying to assuage the feelings of the victim’s family by offering enhanced monetary compensation of Rs 50 lakhs (Rs 40 lakhs to Subodh Kumar Singh’s wife and Rs 10 lakhs to his parents).

Are such “kind” gestures any solution to the malaise that has set in? 

Isn’t there an urgent need to ensure some restraint on the increasingly insolent right-wing aggressors, who don’t bat an eyelid before taking the law in their own hands?

bulandshahr-copy_120518090829.jpgRansacking mobs caused irreparable damage to police vehicles and property. (Photo: PTI)

Is it not time that none other than the chief minister brings an end to his oft-repeated divisive vitriolic rhetoric that is bound to vitiate the atmosphere in his own state? Venomous observations and statements should not be seen as a 'forte' by any senior politician, much less the chief minister of an important state.

Unless that happens, incidents like Bulandshahr are likely to recur – and perhaps even more frequently, leading to worse consequences, not only for the state but for the entire nation.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is fully entitled to his love and respect for the cow. But one ought to understand and realise that like humans, cows are also living beings who have to die a natural death one day. The problem today is that no one wants to be seen around a dead cow – for all you know, he or she could get lynched to death for it.

Hence, even the biggest of cow lovers are known to be getting rid of not only the old and infirm cows, but more often than not, cows are abandoned by their owners along highways and forests soon after they cease to be a source of milk. The so-called 'gau-shalas' created by Yogi Adityanath across many districts of UP were already overflowing far beyond their capacity. The state government has been kind to make a budgetary allocation of more than Rs 350 crores for these gaushalas.

Yet, dead cows are not an uncommon sight in the vast, barren expanse of Bundelkhand.

Even as everyone remains scared of being seen in the vicinity of a dead cow, poor people from some downtrodden castes who were until sometime back making a small living out of carcasses still venture out to quietly skin the naturally dead cow and make a small buck out of its bones or horns.

It is said that the remains of cow carcass in Bulandshahr were a part of naturally dying cows abandoned by their owners. Quite obviously, the communal factory has done its bit to exploit that for their own vested interests.

Remember, Muzaffarnagar happened a few months before 2014 elections. How many months are left for the 2019 general elections?

Last updated: December 05, 2018 | 14:07
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