A political game is being played in Bisada village of Uttar Pradesh that is due for assembly elections next year, with parties accusing each other of whipping up communal passion.
A forensic report has flared up tension in the village, where the 55-year-old Muslim man was lynched by a local mob over allegations of beef consumption, triggering a nationwide debate on “rising intolerance” in the country.
On September 28, Mohammad Ikhlaq and his son Danish were attacked by the mob in Bisada village, 50 km from Delhi. Ikhlaq succumbed to injuries while Danish survived with a fractured skull. Eighteen people, including three juveniles, have been arrested on the charges of murder and assault.
The mob allegedly recovered a bowl of meat from Ikhlaq’s home. Samples of the meat were sent for forensic test. The report of the test, released last week, stated that the meat was that of “a cow or its progeny”.
Since the release of the report, families of the accused have been demanding registration of an FIR against Ikhlaq’s family for alleged cow slaughter. A mahapanchayat was held in the village on Monday, in defiance of a prohibitory order.
At the mahapanchayat, villagers demanded that the police book Ikhlaq’s family for “cow slaughter” and drop murder charges against those accused of lynching him.
The panchayat had the backing of saffron forces. A Shiv Sena leader from Ghaziabad, Mahesh Ahuja, extended support to the families of the accused while addressing the gathering. He said he was in Bisada to ensure no “injustice is done to Hindus”.
“There cannot be two laws in the country. The state government has divided the law for the majority and the minority. We have met the local SDM and given a memorandum to lodge an FIR against Ikhlaq’s family members for slaughtering a cow and consuming its meat,” Ahuja said.
Village elders, however, tried to downplay the remarks that drew applause from the youth. Locals set as 20-day “deadline” for the police to register a case against Ikhlaq’s family.
Using the opportunity to attack the Samajwadi Party (SP) government, the BJP said law and order is a state subject and the Akhilesh government is responsible for what is happening in Bisada.
Uttar Pradesh, which is India’s most populous state, was one of the biggest contributors to the BJP’s victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. But the party is a marginal player in the state politics, dominated by regional outfits such as SP and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party. The party looks to strengthen its position in the Assembly elections.
“The state government has failed to control the situation. We will form the government in the state after the elections. Our government will ensure good law and order situation in the state,” said Sanjay Aggarwal, BJP leader from Gautam Budh Nagar.
The SP, meanwhile, accused the BJP of communalising the issue and indulging in politics of hate.
“It is all the BJP’s fault and its hate politics. They are trying to communalise the issue ahead of the assembly elections. But we will not let it happen,” said Pratap Chauhan party’s district chief.
The BSP is also looking to make a comeback to power and is attacking the SP for “lawlessness” in the state and the BJP for communal violence.
“This is a conspiracy of both the BJP and SP. Both of them are trying appeasement politics and the residents are fed up with this. It is understood that the BJP’s gain is SP’s gain as both are trying to keep the communal pot boiling,” said Lakhmi Singh, Greater Noida BSP chief.