A fragile peace held sway at a tiny village in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday as throngs of security personnel spilled into its byways two days after a mob allegedly dragged a Muslim man out of his house and bludgeoned him to death over accusations of sacrificing a cow.
The state’s Samajwadi Party (SP) government ordered a probe and announced a Rs 10-lakh compensation for the victim’s family that rubbished the slaughter theory and called the attack on 55-year-old Ikhlaq “premeditated”.
Sources said an animal carcass dumped in the middle of Greater Noida’s Bisada village sparked the incident that comes at a time when the BJP and its affiliates are pushing for a nationwide ban on cow slaughter as the animal is considered holy by many Hindus, while several minority groups are resisting such steps, terming them “discriminatory”.
“After dinner, my father went to sleep in his room on the first floor. We heard the announcement from the village temple in our vicinity, calling the residents to assemble at our house as he had slaughtered a calf,” said the victim’s daughter, Mehraaj. “At 10.30pm, more than 100 people armed with sticks and bricks surrounded my house. They abused us and broke the main gate to enter. They mercilessly thrashed my brother who was studying on the ground floor and damaged the furniture. Then, they went upstairs and attacked my father.”
She said the mob misbehaved with the women of the house and dragged her father to the main road.
“They tore his clothes. We pleaded with them to leave him but they did not listen. They kept hitting on my father’s head and chest with stones and sticks till he died. The mob dispersed after they heard the siren of police vehicles.”
The temple priest told police he made the announcement of a calf’s carcass being found on the instructions of two young men from the neighbourhood who said they had seen Ikhlaq dumping the dead animal.
Officials said several local residents broke into the victim’s house and on finding some meat in a refrigerator, they started beating Ikhlaq and his son Danish, accusing them of slaughtering a calf. Danish was seriously injured and is receiving treatment at a private hospital.
“We are feeling unsafe. Even though police have provided security around our house, what is going to happen when they leave?” said the victim’s mother, with the family planning to relocate. “The 70-year- old trust is lost.”
Superintendent of police (rural) Sanjay Singh said six of the 10 people named in the FIR, all in their late 20s, were arrested and the situation was under control. However, angry relatives of the accused clashed with authorities on Tuesday, claiming they were innocent.
“We couldn’t understand anything and pleaded with the police officer that my brother was innocent. If he had killed someone, how could he come back to home and sleep in peace?” said Vandana Sisodia, sister of Sandeep Sisodia who is among those arrested.
The episode drew sharp condemnation from the Congress which alleged that such communal incidents will escalate ahead of the Bihar elections.
“Such politics needs to be condemned. There is a growing ambience and climate of hate... politics of poison and hatred is bound to grow in the run-up to the Bihar elections. Silence from top despite having great oratory is eloquent,” party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.
“It is shocking that such an incident is happening on the outskirts of Delhi. In the last 15 months such incidents have been on the rise, so also the trust deficit.”
The BJP blamed lawlessness and the apathy of local police for the violence.
“Law and order has completely failed because police is completely biased in dealing with such cases,” said Harish Thakur, the party’s district head.
Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav instructed officials to initiate strict measures against those found guilty and also demanded action against people spreading rumours about the episode. The National Commission for Minorities asked the area’s district magistrate to file a report on the matter.
“The state government has ordered an inquiry into the incident. We are waiting for the report for further action,” said UP’s chief secretary Alok Ranjan.
Bisada village falls under Greater Noida’s Dadri tehsil. It has about 9,000 residents, mostly from the Thakur community, and just two Muslim families.
(With inputs from Ashni Dhaor in Greater Noida and HT correspondents in Lucknow and New Delhi)