The sensitive issue of cow slaughter continues to be the cause of a deep religious divide in the communally and politically fragile region of western Uttar Pradesh.
The Bisada killing may have shocked the nation but such incidents are not rare for residents of the region where at least 17 cases of communal clashes were reported over suspicion of cow slaughter or thefts this year alone.
On August 2, three persons — Arif, Anas and Nazim — transporting cattle were intercepted by a mob at Kaimrala village, 18 km away from Bisada, and lynched, police said. Three persons were booked for murder but none were arrested. “A team was formed to investigate the case,” said Hom Singh Yadav, in-charge, Dadri police station.
On September 15, violence erupted in Sharanpur and Aligarh and in Phulas Akbarpur village in Sharanapur, villagers attacked a police team after a man was arrested accused of cow slaughter. The same day, Kastoli in Aligarh saw communal violence over cow slaughter.
Members of two communities clashed in Kulpahar area of Mahoba district on July 4. Cases of communal violence over the same issue were reported from Pilibhit, Bahraich, Maharajganj and Ghazipur districts.
Political parties, as usual, blame each other for such incidents. “People usually avoid any confrontation on such issues. But these days, communal harmony is being disrupted by anti-social elements. I suspect that there is a hand of people attached to right wing parties to polarise voters before the 2017 assembly elections,” said Pratap Chauhan, district president of the Samajwadi Party.
Firebrand UP minister Azam Khan directly blames the BJP. “The BJP is trying to engage in polarisation politics for gains in the 2017 UP polls much in the same way they exploited the Muzaffarnagar riots before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in the state. PM Modi must keep its cadres under check,” said Khan.
The BJP dismisses the communal angle to such incidents “These are matters related to law and order. It is the responsibility of police to take strict action against the culprits to stop such incidents,” said , Union Minister and BJP MP from Gautam Budh Nagar.
In a similar incident in Gadarpur area on the UP-Uttarakhand border, a group of men stopped a mini truck carrying a cow and calf on September 11. The incident resulted in a clash between two communities but police intervened in time to restore law and order.