A year after the lynching of a Muslim man over allegations of slaughtering a cow and storing its meat for consumption, the Bisada village of Dadri area, some 50 km from Delhi, appears calm. The calmness belies a tension that the village has not been able to shrug off.
Muslim residents, who had fled from the village fearing a backlash after the incident, have returned and resumed their businesses. A majority of barbers, carpenter and other craftsmen in the village are Muslims. But underneath the normalcy lies tension and shadows of the lynching. People avoid discussing the lynching with each other, but the fear and speculations over justice are still simmering in the village.
On the night of September 28 last year, Mohammad Ikhlaq and his son Danish were attacked by a mob over allegations of slaughtering a cow. Ikhlaq succumbed to injuries while Danish sustained a fractured skull.
Eighteen people from the village, including three juveniles, were arrested on charges of murder and assault after the lynching. The families of the accused and the villagers registered an FIR against Ikhlaq and his kin in July, citing reports of the Mathura lab that confirmed the sample allegedly recovered from Ikhlaq’s residence was cow meat.
As media extensively covered the incident, the villagers are now keeping an eye on the news related to the case. Many have subscribed to Hindi dailies, young men have downloaded news apps and some have subscribed English dailies as well.
“We know who is writing what about the village. The media is to blame for tarnishing the name of the village,” said Dheeraj Sisodiya, father of an accused.
Among the 14,000 residents of the village, a majority of them are from the Sisodiya Rajput community. Merely 50 Muslim families reside in the village. Though the locals claim no communal tension, the local mosque and the temple, from where the accused persons had announced that Ikhlaq had slaughtered a cow, avoid using loudspeakers during religious functions.
After the incident, the Imam and the priest too had left. The Imam returned after a while but maintained a “safe” distance from the journalists.
Sadhvi Har Siddhi is now the priest of the temple and has tried to organize religious events in the village that have triggered controversy. The villagers stopped her from performing a bhandara (fest) with the help of saffron outfits a few months ago.
“The village is calm. Let it be calm. We have seen enough and our image has been tarnished,” said Ram Sisodiya, an elderly farmer of the locality.
The Muslim residents claim they are safe but they avoid carrying meat. No family offered sacrifice this Eid.
“It’s not a tradition here. Only those who are financially strong enough to buy one animal, offer the sacrifice. In the last 15-20 years, I have seen a handful of sacrifices in the village. Muslim here are not financially capable of buying and sacrificing an animal,” said Akram Khan, class 8 student of the local government school.