It did not take long for the shameful incident of a 55-year old man in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri village being dragged from his house and lynched by a rampaging mob for allegedly storing beef to become fodder for public debate and political posturing. With leaders issuing controversial statements and a police investigation underway, Bisada village still remains tense. Here is a look at how events have unfolded in Dadri since the incident came to light:
On September 28, an angry mob beat up Mohammad Ikhlaq, 55, to death and injured his son Danish, 22, in Dadri’s Bisada village after a local temple announced that they had consumed ‘beef’ on Eid and were storing it in their house.
Police confiscated the meat in Ikhlaq’s house and sent it for testing before it even launched an investigation against the accused. Ikhlaq’s distraught family has maintained that the meat was mutton, not beef.
The usual list of politicians visiting the aggrieved began with Union minister Mahesh Sharma, who is also the elected representative from the area. Sharma, known for his controversial remarks, called the incident an “accident” . “If someone claims the incident was pre-planned, I completely refute this. What happened was an accident. It is unfortunate. An investigation by the CBI should be conducted,” he said.
Not one to be left behind, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi also visited the victim’s family, stating that it was a “pre-planned, cold-blooded killing”.
When Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal visited the victim’s family five days after the incident, he was stopped by the police from entering the village due to unrest. Kejriwal took to Twitter to demand why Sharma and Owaisi were allowed, but not him. He was later allowed to meet the family and said the incident was “against humanity”.
The mood remained tense as women from the village attacked the press, injuring two journalists and damaging their vehicles, claiming that the media coverage was biased. On October 3, the main accused in the Dadri lynching case, Vishal and Shyam, were arrested by the police. Vishal is the son of local BJP leader Sanjay Rana and one of the ten people who were named in the FIR.
The political noise around the story grew stronger as Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi met the family of the victim in the evening. “It is very sad to see the trust and harmony, built over decades, destroyed by the politics of hate. Was touched by the desire of people in Bisada to maintain harmony,” he later tweeted.
BJP MLA Sangeet Som, who was accused of inciting rioters in Muzaffarnagar in 2013, stirred passions even further by alleging that the SP government was appeasing the minority community and framing “innocents”.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, who was criticised for not meeting Mohammad Ikhlaq’s family or condemning the attack, finally met them in Lucknow on October 4 and announced a Rs 45 lakh as compensation for the victim’s family.
Amid politicians’ statements, Ikhlaq’s son Sartaj struck a note of dignity when he said that he knows justice will prevail. Sartaj, who is a corporal in the Indian Air Force, said, “I will continue to serve my country to fulfil my dead father’s dream.”
The situation still remains taut with tension prevailing in Bisada. On Monday, new guidelines were announced under which a police inspector needs to file a record or ‘panchnama’ on the natural death of a cow to stem rumours.