A political game is again at play in Bisada village of Uttar Pradesh that is due for state election in 2017, with rival parties accusing each other of whipping up communal passions.
A forensic report has ratcheted up tension in the village, which is 50km from Delhi, where a Muslim man was lynched last year over allegations of beef consumption, triggering a nationwide debate on rising intolerance in the country.
Police must book Mohammad Ikhlaq’s family for cow slaughter and drop murder charges against those accused of lynching him, villagers demanded at a meeting on Monday.
The panchayat held in defiance of a prohibitory order had shades of saffron. A Shiv Sena leader from Ghaziabad, Mahesh Ahuja, extended support to the families of the accused as he addressed the gathering. He was in Bisada to ensure no “injustice” was done to Hindus, Ahuja said.
“There cannot be two laws in this country. The state government has divided the law for majority and minority, which we are opposing. We have met the local SDM and given a memorandum to lodge an FIR against Ikhlaq’s kin for slaughtering a cow and consuming its meat,” Ahuja said.
The village elders tried to downplay the remarks that drew applause from the young as the locals set as 20-day “deadline” for police to register a case against the Ikhlaq family.
On September 28, 55-year-old Ikhlaq and his son Danish were attacked by a mob of local residents. Ikhlaq succumbed to his injuries while Danish survived with a fractured skull. Eighteen people, including three juveniles, were arrested on charges of murder and assault.
The mob recovered what is said was a bowl of cow meat from Ikhlaq’s home. Samples were sent for forensic test and a report last week said the meat was that of “a cow or its progeny”.
Rivals have accused the BJP of communalising the issue. Law and order is a state subject and the Akhilesh government is responsible for what is happening in Bisada, says the party, looking to dislodge the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh.
India’s most populous state was one of the biggest contributors to the BJP’s sweep in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. But, the party is a marginal player in the state politics dominated by regional outfits such as SP and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party. It is looking to correct the anomaly in the assembly elections.
“The state government is failing to control such situations. In the upcoming elections, we are going to form a government. Our government will ensure strict law and order in the state,” said Sanjay Aggarwal, BJP leader from Gautam Budh Nagar.
The Samajwadi Party has criticised the BJP for indulging in politics of hate. “It is all BJP’s fault and its hate politics. They are trying to communalise the issue ahead of the assembly elections but we will not let it happen,” party’s district chief Pratap Chauhan said.
The BSP led by former chief minister Mayawati is looking to make a comeback has targeted the SP for alleged lawlessness in the state and the BJP for communal violence.
“This is a conspiracy of both the BJP and SP. Both of them are trying appeasement politics and the residents are fed up with this. It is understood that BJP’s gain is SP’s gain as both are trying to keep the communal pot boiling,” said Greater Noida BSP chief Lakhmi Singh said.