Shocked and shaken to the core, several Muslims families of Bisada village in Greater Noida, where a man was lynched over rumours that his family having ate beef, are thinking of moving out as the local administration scrambled to stem simmering tension.
The Centre has, meanwhile, sought a detailed report from the Uttar Pradesh government on the incident and asked it to ensure that no such incidents recur.
Heavy security deployment in the aftermath of the Monday night incident has failed to instill confidence among the 50 odd Muslim families, who unnerved by the killing of 50-year-old Mohammed Ikhlaq, want to shift to safer places.
Ikhlaq was dragged out of his home by a mob of about 200 people and beaten to death for allegedly eating beef.
“Our lives are in danger. I’m planning to move from here. We will move from here because this can happen again anytime. Who will ensure us that this won’t happen again?” said a distraught Sartaj, Ikhlaq’s son, who serves in the Indian Air Force. The victim’s another son, 22-year-old Danish, who was mercilessly assaulted, is recuperating in a hospital.
“We will move out to our relatives in Delhi or other states if the situation here deteriorates any further,” said Raisuddin, another resident.
However, district magistrate NP Singh claimed the situation in the village is “under control” and the administration is making efforts to maintain order by forming peace committees with representation from both the majority and minority communities.
As the situation threatened to spiral out of control following incident, contingents of Provincial Armed Constabulary and reinforcements from adjoining Ghaziabad, Bulandshahr and Hapur had been rushed to the village.
Sartaj said his father was suffering from typhoid and had low blood pressure when the mob bludgeoned him to death. He said he was not aware of any tension in the village preceding the incident.
“As far as I know, there wasn’t any tension. Everything was normal. I spoke to my father an hour before the incident and asked about his well being. He was suffering from typhoid and his BP was below normal. Rest was fine till then.
He was dragged outside the house, obviously neighbours were involved,” he said.
“Those arrested murdered my father. I want to know the reason for which they did this to him. They should be punished so that none from the village would dare to do such a deed in future,” Sartaj said, adding his family was contemplating moving out of the village as such incidents could happen any time.
Ikhlaq’s wife demanded a CBI inquiry into the incident. Recalling the incident, she said,”There was a lot of noise and they were banging our doors and abusing us. The entered the house by jumping a wall from the other side. Then they started misbehaving and vandalising things after which they mercilessly thrashed us.”
Additional district magistrate Rajesh Kumar met the victim’s family and other members of the Muslim community and assured protection. Seven people allegedly involved in the incident have already been arrested, while hunt is on for others.
SP(Rural) Sanjay Singh said a priest at the local temple, who made the announcement on the public address system about the family having consumed beef, and two youths, who allegedly forced him to do that, were “major links” to the incident.
“Further interrogation will reveal the exact sequence of events. The victim’s family has alleged it was pre-planned,” he said.
Ikhlaq’s kin have rubbished the charge of consuming beef and said they had eaten mutton. Even the FIR has no mention of beef. Enraged over the incident, a Muslim resident of the village said,”Even if it was beef, does it give any right to BJP activists to attack the house and kill the man because he has eaten beef.” “It is fact that Muslim community eats beef. But they never slaughter cows in public view. Beef is available in several other states openly in shops. Slaughtering should not be done in public view to hurt the sentiment of any community. If one is doing inside the house or buying beef from slaughter house and eating it at home it should not be treated as sin. We should have freedom to eat. We are not forcing others to eat beef,” another local said.
The incident has set off a blame game between BJP and the state’s ruling Samajwadi Party.
“This (incident) should be considered an accident without giving any communal colour to it,” Union minister Mahesh Sharma, the local BJP MP, told reporters in Delhi. He said, “I feel this incident occurred due to some misunderstanding and the law should truthfully act against whoever is responsible.”
With tension gripping the area, the ruling Samajwadi Party hit out at BJP over Ikhlaq’s killing, accusing it of deliberately inciting violence ahead of 2017 assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh as part of efforts to polarise voters.
“BJP has been inciting large scale violence in UP ahead of the assembly polls. Such incidents are occurring repeatedly after the Muzaffarnagar violence,” said state cabinet minister Azam Khan.
Reacting to SP leader’s charge, BJP MP Yogi Adityanath said the UP government was responsible for “jungle-raj” in the state. “Jungle-raj prevails in UP and the government backs the professional criminals and mafia to hide its failure. There is a complete anarchy in the state.”
The Congress, on its part, accused BJP of making UP a “communal lab” to gain electoral mileage. “UP has been made a communal lab by BJP so that they can enhance their vote bank. The PM can continue to talk about development but it is extremely evident the real path of BJP is communal hatred,” said Congress leader and former Union minister RPN Singh.
Meanwhile, in a communication to the Uttar Pradesh government, the home ministry has sought a report on the incident. It asked the state government to apprehend those responsible for it at the earliest and punish them.