The lynching of a man in Bisada village of Uttar Pradesh over rumours that he had slaughtered a cow was the outcome of “pre-meditated planning” and not a spontaneous incident, the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has said in a report.
The NCM expressed concern at controversial statements by politicians to “make capital out of such outrages” and said such remarks further vitiate relations between different communities. The panel said such comments should be stopped at all costs or “things will go out of hand”.
The report quoted officials as saying that two more attempts were made to “incite” people in the area by spreading rumours that a cow had been slaughtered but police responded instantly and did not allow the situation to get out of hand.
Mohammed Ikhlaq, 55, was lynched and his son severely injured when a mob stormed his home in Bisada on September 28 following rumours that he had slaughtered a cow and eaten beef. Announcements about the slaughtering of a cow were reportedly made from a temple near Ikhlaq’s home.
The report, prepared after a three-member team headed by NCM chairperson Naseem Ahmad visited Bisada, said: “The team feels that a crowd of large numbers appearing within minutes of an announcement from temple’s loudspeaker and at a time when most villagers claimed they were asleep seems to point to some pre-meditated planning.”
The report added: “The facts as reported to the NCM team point strongly that the whole episode was the result of planning in which a sacred place like temple was used for exhorting people of one community to attack a hapless family.”
The NCM described as “disturbing” the controversial statements made by politicians to “make capital out of such outrages”.
The panel said it would be “quite an understatement” to say Ikhlaq’s killing was merely an accident “as has been claimed even by some persons in authority”. This was an apparent reference to statements by Union culture minister Mahesh Sharma and other BJP leaders, who had referred to the incident as an “accident”.
The NCM also said it was disturbing that responsible persons converged at the site of incidents such as the lynching and make irresponsible statements that further vitiate relations between communities.
“All the political establishments need to counsel their cadres and sympathisers to desist from making irresponsible statements and making capital out of such outrages,” it said.
The NCM also said the “malaise of moral policing” is spreading rapidly, especially in western Uttar Pradesh. It said authorities should keep a vigil on social media and impose curbs on its use as it was being extensively used to increase communal passions.
The NCM team interacted with the administration, members of Ikhlaq’s family and residents of Bisada before preparing its report. Iqlakh’s relatives told the NCM team that there was no tension between them and other villagers before the lynching.
“They claimed that the attack was sudden and vicious and the men were particularly and brutally targeted and women were also assaulted and injured. They were, however, all praise for the help provided by the administration,” the report said.
Members of the majority Hindu community expressed regret over the incident and promised to provide security to Muslim families but Iqlakh’s brothers said this would be difficult to ensure against the backdrop of the murder, the report said.
The families of Iqlakh and his three brothers, the report noted, still felt vulnerable and insecure.
“The NCM chairman said providing security to Muslim families in the village was at this time paramount and all efforts have to be made to expedite police investigation so that the guilty are brought to book quickly. He also emphasised that all assistance to the victim’s family has to be provided, whether it is legal, material or emotional,” the report added.
The minorities panel called for reviving intelligence gathering so that such incidents are not repeated. “It has to be revived with utmost sincerity if we are really interested in restoring communal amity. It is an issue on which both the central and state authorities have to work in tandem without blaming each other,” it said.
(With inputs from PTI)