Top political leaders made a beeline for Dadri in Uttar Pradesh on Friday to meet the family of Mohammad Ikhlaq, who was lynched to death over allegations of storing beef, and cashed in on the nationwide attention that the incident has arrested.
Ikhlaq was beaten to death and his 22-year-old son Danish was critically injured by a 200-strong mob which barged into their house on Monday night following an announcement from loudspeakers installed in the local temple that the family ate beef. The family alleged their neighbours did not help them.
Union culture and tourism minister Mahesh Sharma, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and leader of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) Asaduddin Owaisi were among the politicians who joined the political slugfest on Friday.
Here’s what they said:
Sharma said political parties should refrain from playing politics by giving a communal colour to the incident and there should be an impartial probe by CBI or the state to punish the guilty.
Sharma, who is also the local BJP MP, visited the family of Iqlakh and stuck to his stand that it was an “accident”.
“It is a blot on our culture and such incidents do not have a place in a civilised society. If somebody says it was pre-planned, I don’t agree with it. It is an accident and investigation should happen by CBI or state and guilty should be punished. Innocents should not be victimised in the name of investigation,” he said.
“Law should take its course and there should be fair investigation. I condemn any attempt to give political or communal colour to this incident. Such people are neither well-wishers of the society nor of the country.”
The controversial AIMIM leader alleged that he was targeted for his religion and questioned the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “silence”.
Owaisi met the wife of deceased Iqlakh this morning and alleged that it was a pre-planned murder.
Taking a veiled dig at Sharma, “This wasn’t an attack over meat. It was murder over religion to spread politics of hatred of a party. This is a pre-planned, cold-blooded killing. It cannot be an accident.
“This is the thought which is against secularism, it is against the brotherhood of India. It sees Muslims with an eye of suspicion,” the Hyderabad MP said.
Owaisi hit out at Modi over his “silence” on the issue, saying the he sholld have at least sent his condolences in a tweet if “he believes in pluralism and upholding of law”.
“... we were expecting the PM would have at lease sent condolences to Sartaj (victim’s son) and condemned it. We were expecting that the PM who says ‘sabka saath sabka vikaas’ should have condoled at least with a tweet.”
Targeting Modi, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav said those who spoke against the “pink revolution” should ban beef exports as they were now in power, and alleged that they wanted to disturb the “secular” ethos of the country by raising such issues.
“A rumour does not have anything in it but a lot can happen because of it. Our Constitution is based on secularism. Our schemes are all based on this principle but some forces want to vitiate the atmosphere,” he said.
“They want to rake up such issues. These forces talked about pink revolution. We will say today - you are in government now, so ban beef exports. You should build support for banning their export,” Yadav said in an apparent reference to Modi, who had in the run-up to last Lok Sabha elections attacked the then UPA government over meat exports, saying it was encouraging a “pink revolution”.
Without naming Modi, Yadav said that those who are marketing the country abroad should consider what kind of food is eaten by the people there.
“The world where you are roaming, marketing and promoting your country, just think once what kind of food they eat from dawn to dusk. That’s why we should not interfere in each other’s way of life,” he said at a function in Lucknow.
Meanwhile, speaking at an event in Rampur, UP minister Azam Khan condemned the brutal killing of Ikhlaq in Dadri and said that the fights between the Hindus and the Muslims in the name of meat should end and stressed on a proper law against cow and pig slaughter.
“In the name of meat, these fights between Masjid and Mandir(temple) should end. There should be a law against cow and pig meat. I condemn the Dadri incident. If Prime Minister Modi would have responded to the Dadri incident, then we would have assumed that he is trying to erase his past and moving beyond 2002 (Godhra riots),” Khan said.