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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

‘Was not at the spot’: Bulandshahr mob violence accused claims police frame-up in video

The Bajrang Dal leader claimed he was not present at Chingrawathi where violent protests broke out against alleged cow slaughter in Mahaw village of the district, but at the Syana police station where he had gone to register the FIR about the incident.

india Updated: Dec 05, 2018 23:50 IST
S Raju
S Raju
Hindustan Times, Meerut
Reports of cow slaughter from Mahaw village, near Bulandshahr, on Sunday night had triggered the violent clashes a day later.
Reports of cow slaughter from Mahaw village, near Bulandshahr, on Sunday night had triggered the violent clashes a day later. (HT Photo)

An absconding Bajrang Dal activist ,the prime suspect in the violence that rocked Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr this week, defended himself on Wednesday, claiming he wasn’t present when the clashes between police and a local mob left a police inspector and a villager dead.

In a video message circulated on television channels and social media, Yogesh Raj said he wasn’t a witness to the alleged slaughter of cows that sparked the violence on Monday. Raj claimed he reached the village of Mahaw, where the alleged slaughter took place, after receiving information from his associates, raising questions about the authenticity of an FIR purportedly filed by him in the cow slaughter case.

The video clip came on a day the Uttar Pradesh police hinted at a “conspiracy” behind the mob violence and chief minister Yogi Adityanath ordered strict action against cow slaughter, unlawful trade in cattle and illegal slaughterhouses.

His instructions were conveyed by chief secretary Anup Pandey to magistrates and superintendents of police of all 75 districts through a video link, an official release said. Adityanath said the district magistrate and other senior police officials of a district will be held personally responsible for any lapse.

Bulandshahr mob violence main accused Yogesh?Raj, who is on the run, released a video on Whatsapp today, claiming his innocence.
Bulandshahr mob violence main accused Yogesh?Raj, who is on the run, released a video on Whatsapp today, claiming his innocence. ( HT Photo )

On Tuesday night, too, Adityanath held an emergency meeting and ordered strict action against those involved in the alleged cow slaughter. He also directed action against rumour mongers and told principal secretary (home) Arvind Kumar, director general of police OP Singh and additional director general of intelligence SB Shiradkar to ensure that all involved in cow slaughter be arrested.

“We are not only seeing it as a law and order issue. It was a conspiracy and we are probing why that particular day – December 3 – and place on which the cows were slaughtered and their remains spread in the field were selected,” Singh told PTI.

He said the place where the cow carcasses were allegedly found, Mahaw village, was 40km from a massive Islamic congregation called the Tabligi Ijtema where hundreds of thousands of people had gathered. Police have filed two FIRs – one on the alleged cow slaughter and the other on the mob violence.

The Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), continued to defend Raj, who is one of 28 people named in the FIR for murder and rioting, but asked him to surrender.

“Yogesh Raj has got nothing to do with it (the violence). He is our district convenor, we are with him and he is innocent. He will cooperate with the police and come out at the right time,” said Bajrang Dal’s western Uttar Pradesh region co-convenor Praveen Bhati.

In the 1 minute 42 second video that opens with chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’, Raj blamed the police for portraying him as a history-sheeter and said the Bajrang Dal had merely demanded an FIR be filed over the cow slaughter allegations, which was met. About the violence, he said, “I was not present at the spot. I have got nothing to do with it. I am confident that the Almighty will get me justice.”

The police refused to comment on the video. “I have not seen the video because (I am) involved in so many things,” said Bulandshahr superintendent of police Praveen Ranjan Singh.

Trouble began late on Sunday night when groups of local villagers alleged cow carcasses were lying near Mahaw village. Around 11am the next day, protests against the alleged cow slaughter spun out of control and mobs of so-called cow vigilantes went on a three-hour rampage, clashing with security forces and setting vehicles and a police post on fire in Bulandshahr, just 130 km from Delhi. Five officials were injured in the scuffle.

In the melee, inspector Subodh Kumar Singh, who was part of the initial investigation into the 2015 murder of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri over allegations of cow slaughter, and a man identified as Sumit died. Singh was first injured in the stone pelting by the mob and was shot later. Sumit, who was shot dead, belonged to the mob.

The list of 28 accused in the violence include, other than Raj, the names of BJP Syana unit youth wing president Shikhar Agarwal and VHP ex-Syana president Upendra Raghav. Syana is a hamlet near Bulandshahr. Raj’s video also raised doubts about an FIR filed by him over cow slaughter charges that named seven people. Two boys – aged 10 and 11 – were named in the complaint and locals said two others named either didn’t live there or were at the Islamic congregation on the day of the alleged slaughter. In the evening, police said the 11-year-old boy’s name had been withdrawn.

First Published: Dec 05, 2018 18:48 IST