20 April 2024 09:00 AM



Bulandshahr Exposes the Underbelly of Communal Violence

Inspector Subodh Singh is yet another victim of cow politics

While communal violence has long been the bane of Indian society, it has worsened during the last few decades. In the last few years what has dominated the scene of violence has been the accusations related to the slaughter of cows. Beginning with the horrifying murder of Mohammad Akhlaq down to the killing of the teenager Junaid, beef has been used as a ‘weapon of hate’. In this very series follows the murders of two men in Bulandshahr, one of whom was a Hindu police officer.

This tragedy shows the underbelly of communal violence, which in due course brings into its orbit not only the religious minorities but people from the majority religion as well. As such the violence does not involve much killing of members of the majority community, who suffer in smaller numbers. In Bulandshahr, we see the main victim was not only a Hindu but an officer of the state police, killed alongside another Hindu youth.

While full details are yet to come out with an SIT probing the affair, whatever can be gleaned from the media reports is frightening enough.

In the beginning of December 2018 a large congregation of Muslims, an ijtema, took place in Bulandshahr. The congregation saw the participation of lakhs of Muslims. These religious congregations regularly take place in different parts of the country.

Nearly 70 kilometers away from the place of this congregation, in village Siyana of Bulandshahar, it came to residents’ notice that someone had thrown the remains of a slaughtered cow in an agricultural field. The villagers who noticed the carcass reported it to police, which planned to initiate action as per the law. As the carcass was being taken away in the tractor, some 40-50 youth from outside descended on the village and took charge of tractor.

As per some reports the beef was thrown into the field by members of the Bharatiya Janta Morcha and the Bajrang dal. Reports by some journalists, including this video report from the ground, show that the whole incident was orchestrated by outsiders.

These youths took the tractor to the police station, lodged an FIR and created a ruckus. Yogesh Raj, the local chief of the Bajrang Dal who lodged the FIR, was booked as the prime accused in the incident. Various versions are in the air.

What followed led to the death of Inspector Subodh Singh in a brutal manner. Suresh Chavhanke of Sudarshan TV, a right wing channel close to the RSS, tried to link the violence to the Muslims’ ijtema. As per Chavhanke’s tweet the violence was indulged in by Muslims participating in the ijtema. This was countered by police authorities who tweeted that the incident had nothing whatever to do with the ijtema, which was at a place far away and was a peaceful event.

In the FIR lodged by Yogesh Raj of the Bajrang Dal, several Muslims were named, but now the police investigation shows that those named were not involved in the violence.

Many other theories also started being thrown up. One being that one Jitendra Malik, who is part of the Rashtriya Rifles posted in Kashmir, was present on the spot and was the culprit of the violence. His elder brother denied the charge and promised to prove his brother’s innocence. Malik was brought back from duty in Kashmir, but nothing much seems to have been proven about his complicity.

The usual question remains - who did it? But first let’s see the very revealing facts relating to Inspector Subodh Singh, who as per his sister was killed in a planned manner. Singh was the investigation officer in the Mohammad Akhlaq case which led to the arrest of many culprits. It is said that it was he “who always took the right stand, especially on Hindu-Muslim issues”. Probably he was not letting Hindutva groups have their divisive way.

The local units of BJP related organisations had written to officials demanding the transfer of Singh. Now while investigations into this are underway Subodh Singh’s wife fears that evidence relating to his murder is being destroyed.

There are other highlights relating to this incident. One is that many of those who had come to attend the ijtema were sheltered inside a Shiva Temple. Then, SHO Singh’s teenage son Abhishek appealed for peace and harmony in the area. He said "I would appeal to the entire country, please stop Hindu-Muslim violence. People get violent at the slightest provocation. People should understand and remember that they are bound by the law."

In response the Deputy Superintendent of Police in a moving Facebook post stated, “I salute Abhishek who even after losing his father is not speaking the language of hatred and violence.”

On the other side, the chief minister of UP, Mr Adityanath, in the aftermath of this tragedy commented that incidents related to cow slaughter were increasing and would need to be curbed. This cow-primacy got reflected in the statement of a BJP MP who advised the investigating team to examine whether the SHO came under attack because he had failed to check cow slaughter and cow smuggling!

The murder of Singh, a serving police official, is relegated to second place in the Yogi-BJP scheme of things. Meanwhile 83 retired bureaucrats have stated in a joint letter that the law and order machinery in UP has collapsed and that CM Adityanath should resign.

These are disturbing signs of the times, where politics is being dictated by Modi-Yogi, in which emotive issues are taking precedence over human lives, which does not disturb them so far as these serve own their political agenda of polarisation.

Meanwhile the sense of insecurity reigns supreme in the village where the incident took place. The villagers who repeatedly affirmed that their village had braved all the communal incidents like the Babri demolition violence, the Muzzafarnagar violence, etc. now fear for their safety, and are feeling insecure in the places where they have been living in peace for decades.

In the trajectory of patterns of violence, Bulandshahr is probably yet another pattern of planned violence, where the major victim can be from the majority community itself. Inspector Subodh Singh is yet another victim of cow politics.