Police inspector’s martyrdom saved UP from another Muzaffarnagar riot

It has been more than 10 days since violence broke out in the western UP district of Bulandshahr, where two persons including a police inspector lost their lives at the hands of rioters who were hell-bent on fomenting trouble, reports SHARAT PRADHAN

Some carcasses of cows were found littered in an agricultural field of a village in western district of Bulandhshahar in Uttar Pradesh. Interestingly, these were discovered by none other than a Bajrang Dal activist Yogesh Raj, who got his followers to cart, the remains of the bovine to the middle of the nearby Bulandshahr –Moradabad highway in a tractor-trolley. With them projecting it as a case of “cow-slaughter”, much commotion was already created in and around the village on December 3.

Subodh Kumar Singh, the inspector of the Syana Police Station, rushed to take control of the situation by getting down to registering the FIR that Yogesh Raj was demanding. With the FIR done, Inspector Singh urged Raj to disperse his bandwagon of supporters, who had converged there in large numbers raising provocative slogans while demanding the arrest of the culprits. However, far from pacifying the agitators, someone from the rioters quietly zipped away from the tractor and abandoned the trolley in the middle of the highway.

Their objective was quite evident – to block the road. And sure enough, there was an obvious design behind the roadblock. The three-day ‘Ijtima’ (a religious meet) being attended by several lakh Muslims was going to conclude the same afternoon and a large number of buses carting the participants from different corners of the state were to return via the same highway. How the blockade created with a trolley loaded with cow carcasses could have incited a bloody communal clash is anybody’s guess.

It was clearly an old tactic – spill some beef in a temple and throw some pork in a mosque and your objective of igniting a communal clash would be served. The trick is known to have been first used by the British to divide and rule and later followed even in the sixties and seventies to foment trouble between  Hindus and Muslims.

In this case, too, no one tried to reason out that every dead cow is not the result of a cow slaughter. After all, cows die on their own too – especially since more often than not, most self-styled cow lovers do not bat an eyelid before dumping their own cows no sooner than it stops giving them milk. According to reports, such cows are often abandoned along highways or around forests, where they meet their end, often due to starvation.

In case of the Bulandshahr carcasses, it is believed by many that some naturally dead cows were systematically chopped by the mischief-mongers who spilt these in the field. And what substantiated this theory was the post-mortem of these carcasses. It said that the carcasses were more than 48 hours old.

It was the alertness of Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh who apparently smelt the rat and got into action to nip the trouble in the bud. He got his cops to manually push the trolley away from the highway. But the move did not go well with the culprits, who engaged the cops in a free-for-all that began with the pelting of stones that hurt Singh on his temple and left him bleeding profusely. When his juniors tried to whisk Singh away in the police jeep to some hospital, they were intercepted by the mob, allegedly led by Yogesh Raj. The cops gave up without any resistance and ran for their own lives while a bullet pierced into the inspector’s head dropping him dead.

That prompted the trouble-makers to disperse, even as one of them unity too got shot.

A police inspector ’s broad-daylight murder was not to be taken lying down by the men in khakhi, who ensured that an FIR was promptly lodged against the Bajrang Dal activist. Sure enough, they knew and any time lag could prevent them from doing so as the fellow was deeply entrenched with the ruling dispensation. No wonder, the UP police failed to track him down even though he kept issuing video posts, proclaiming himself to be “innocent”. Finally, non-bailable warrants have been issued against him only after much hammering by the media.

Significantly, even the chief minister’s focus remained more on “cow-slaughter” than the inspector’s killing, which he even went to the extent of terming as “accident”  He, however,
attributes the alleged cow-slaughter to “conspiracy”. Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) spokesman Vinod Bansal went about pointedly accusing Muslims, attending the ‘Ijtima’, as the “killer of the cows”. Another self-styled Hindutva activist Ajay Gautam was heard screaming on TV channels,” the cows in Bulandshahr were slaughtered for a feast at the ‘Ijtima’, where lakhs of Muslims had gathered. 

Ironically, the official machinery remains in denial mode about any “conspiracy” to foment communal trouble. Meanwhile, even as Yogesh Raj continues to hoodwink the police, the chief minister ordered punitive action against several Bulandshahr policemen including the district police chief. If insiders were to be believed, even as these officials were being held responsible for the breakdown of law and order, they had to actually pay the price for booking the Bajrang Dal activist.

It would be too naïve to believe that there was no vicious design to incite communal frenzy on the lines of the infamous Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013. The riots, which left as many as 67 dead and tens of thousands uprooted from their homes , eventually helped to play up the politics of polarisation. If it was a simple incident of eve-teasing that snowballed into the bloody Muzaffarnagar riots, it was the story of an alleged cow-slaughter that gave rise to the violence in Bulandshahr , that is as communally volatile as its neighbouring Muzaffarnagar.

Eventually, in 2014, when the nation went to poll, BJP romped home with as many as 73 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the country’s most populous and therefore the politically most crucial state. The next general elections too are not very far away now.