Analysis

Bulandshahr violence was pre-planned

Attacking a policeman in uniform is a serious crime anywhere in the civilised world as it is construed a direct attack on the authority of the State. But for UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, killing of Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh by a mob of cow vigilantes in Bulandshahr on 3 December, 2018 was just an “accident”.[1] The strange response of the chief minister has stunned everyone. National press is crying foul while civil society is perturbed. Amid this chaos, 83 former bureaucrats have come forward and condemned the Centre as well as the UP government for failing the nation.

The bureaucrats, some of whom have held senior positions in the government, have even demanded resignation of the U.P. Chief Minister and urged Allahabad High Court to take suo motu cognizance of the Bulandshahr incident and order a judicial enquiry. The bureaucrats reminded the state’s chief secretary, director general of police and home secretary “of their constitutional duty to fearlessly implement the Rule of Law rather than the perverse dictates of their political masters”.[2]

The main accused in the crime, Yogesh Raj, is a local activist of Bajrang Dal, the student wing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which in itself is a frontal organisation of RSS (Rashtriya Swayam Sangh), the mother of Hindutva outfits including BJP. He has gone underground with police unable to trace him even more than two weeks after he led a mob to kill Inspector Singh in a brutal manner – his body was found hanging upside down out of his police jeep in the field and a bullet lodged in his head. Another person from among the protesters also died in the violence. Besides, a policeman accompanying the deceased inspector sustained critical injuries. Inspector Singh was SHO (Station House Officer) of Siyana Police Station. The mob also set on fire the Chingarwathi police post under his jurisdiction.

Yogesh Raj is the local convenor of Bajrang Dal and a known Hindutva face in the area. According to Circle Officer of Bulandshahr district’s Siyana area, S.P. Sharma, almost every police officer in the area has Yogesh Raj’s mobile number. But now the police are reluctant to say anything on his links with Bajrang Dal. “We have found that none of the people arrested have links to a political organisation or any such outfit… For us, he (Yogesh Raj) is an individual and we will treat him as such,” said UP’s Additional Director General of Police Anand Kumar.[3] But Bajrang Dal, VHP and the ruling BJP have come in the open to defend him. “Yogesh Raj is innocent and we all are in his support. We would provide him legal help,” said Sohan Singh Solanki, Bajrang Dal’s national convenor. BJP MP from Bulandshahr, Bhoola Singh, and several BJP MLAs from the area also pledged support for Yogesh Raj. [4]

The nation has taken note of the kind of pressure the Hindutva forces are exerting on the administration. The open letter written by the former civil servants sums it up. They have said that the violence in Bulandshahr was a deliberate attempt to display majoritarian muscle and send a message to the Muslim communities living in the region that they “have to live in fear, accept their subordinate status and conform to the cultural diktats of the majority community”. They also attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying “Our Prime Minister, who is so voluble in his election campaigns and who never tires of telling us of how the Constitution of India is the only holy book he worships, maintains stony silence even as he sees a Chief Minister handpicked by him treat that same Constitution with sheer contempt.”

This is the ninth time in the last eighteen months that the bureaucrats have expressed their concerns and asked citizens to unite in a “crusade against the politics of hate and division – a politics which aims to destroy the fundamental principles on which our Republic is founded”. The letter has been signed by people like former foreign secretaries Shyam Saran and Sujatha Singh, former IAS officials and activists Aruna Roy and Harsh Mander, former Delhi lt. governor Najeeb Jung, former Prasar Bharati CEO Jawahar Sircar and former Planning Commission secretary NC Saxena. [5]

Discovery of animal carcasses

The December 3 violence was triggered by discovery of animal carcasses which mysteriously appeared in an open and isolated field. No one knows who brought them and from where. But the needle of suspicion went on Muslims who are in absolute minority in the village. It gave the Hindutva forces opportunity to raise passion in the name of cow protection, although it is not yet confirmed if the carcasses were that of cows.

Irate villagers and activists of Hindutva outfits gathered up the carcasses in a tractor trolley and blocked the road. They attacked the police when they tried to clear the passage. The mob then brought the remains to the nearby Chingarwathi police post and demanded action against the culprits. Despite heavy police deployment in the area, things got out of hand. The violence that followed resulted in deaths and destruction. [6]

Police chief, BJP ally see conspiracy

UP’s Director General of Police, O.P. Singh, is of the opinion that the violence was part of a “big conspiracy”. “This is not just a law and order issue -- how did the cattle carcass reach there? Who brought it, why and under what circumstances?” he told ANI news agency, adding that the police will first investigate the cow slaughter complaint. Singh said the police were also looking into whether the incident was planned to coincide with the anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya on 6 December. [7]

Police chief’s sentiments were echoed by Om Prakash Rajbhar, a minister in the UP government. Claiming that it was a ‘planned conspiracy,’ he linked it directly to the Hindutva outfits like VHP, Bajrang Dal and RSS. Rajbhar is president of the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), an ally of the BJP. He is known for his scathing comments against his own government and its chief minister. He also raised questions on the timing of the violent protests. “Why protest (by Hindutva outfits) happened on same day as Muslim Ijtema event? It was an attempt to disturb peace,” he said.[8]

The three-day Ijtema (religious congregation) Rajbhar is referring to was organised by Tablighi Jamaat, a non-political outfit. It was held in another part of the same district – nearly 50 kms from the spot where the carcasses were found. An attempt was made to link the violence to the Ijtema which had attracted lakhs of Muslims, but police promptly dispelled the rumours of any communal angle. “This incident is not linked to the Ijtema procession in any way. The Ijtema concluded peacefully. The current incident happened 45-50 kilometres away from where the Ijtema was held. Some rowdy elements are the perpetrators of this incident. Statutory action is being taken in the case,” said the Bulandshahr Police through its official Twitter account. [9] Local people believe the whole drama was enacted to create a situation where people returning from the ijtema could be attacked but since the whole incident occurred hours before the ijtema crowd started returning and a police officer was killed in the violence, the situation changed and the perpetrator of violence could not execute their larger plan.

Lynching linked with Akhlaq’s case?

Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh, the deceased police officer, had probed the 2015 lynching of Mohammed Akhlaq in U.P.’s Dadri area, also over allegations of cow slaughter. Now his family is linking his lynching with Akhlaq case. “My brother was investigating Akhlaq case and that is why he was killed,” Sunita, his sister, was quoted as saying by ANI. “It is a conspiracy by Police,” she alleged and criticised Chief Minister Adityanath for doing politics over cow. Abhishek, the son of Inspector Singh, expressed outrage at the growing incidents of religious violence in society. “Today my father lost his life in this Hindu-Muslim dispute, tomorrow whose father will lose his life?” he asked.[10]

Arrested Muslims found innocent

Bulandshahr Police made several quick arrests after filing two FIRs (first information reports) against a number of named and unnamed suspects. An FIR was filed against the perpetrators of violence that saw the lynching of the police officer. It named 27 accused and 60 unnamed accused. Besides Yogesh Raj, it included the name of an army jawan who was identified from the videos of the violence that became viral. The jawan was on vacation. He quietly left the place and resumed his duty in Jammu region. The army detained him and handed him over to the U.P. Police. [11]

Another FIR was filed against seven Muslims on cow slaughter charges. The list included two minors aged 11 and 12. It also included the names of people who were either attending the Ijtema or had not been living in the area for several years.[12] On 5 December, the police arrested four Muslims – Sarfuddin, Sijid Ali, Banne Khan and Asif. Thirteen days later the police admitted that they are innocent. No evidence has been found against them. Therefore, the police moved court seeking their release. But along with the admission of its mistake, the police arrested another set of Muslims for alleged cow slaughter. “Three men – Nadeem, Raees and Kaala – have been arrested for their role in the cow slaughtering incident. A vehicle and a licenced weapon have also been recovered from their possession,” said Bulandshahr SSP Prabhakar Chaudhary, adding the trio was not named in the initial complaint.[13]

The FIR against Muslims were filed on the complaints lodged by Yogesh Raj, the main accused in the December 3 violence. It was part of an apparent deal to placate him while he was leading the mob with animal carcasses. “‘Bhai, please manage your people and don’t let any violence occur. I will get your cow slaughter FIR registered’. He assured me cooperation. When I reached the chowki around 12.45 pm, the FIR had been registered. I took Yogeshraj aside and asked him to remove the vehicle. He agreed and the tractor trolley was even removed briefly. But just then his associates began hurling abuses at him. And then, out of nowhere, the stone-pelting started.” This is the statement of Circle Officer S.P. Sharma to the  Indian Express. Sharma and two of his subordinates are the lucky policemen who escaped death on 3 December. When the mob of cow vigilantes attacked and set the Chingarwathi police post on fire, they had locked themselves in a 10x10ft room. They saved their lives by breaking the ventilation of the room and crawling out one by one.[14]

Police nexus with Yogesh Raj

According to Circle Officer Sharma, almost every police officer in Bulandshahr district’s Siyana area has Yogeshraj’s mobile number. “He is either organising provocative religious rallies or protesting against azaan from mosques. When no issue is at hand, he picks up Facebook posts or even a traffic accident to create trouble,” says an officer from the police station, who doesn’t want to be named. When asked why police dealt with him with kid gloves, senior officers just smile, “You know why.”[15]

 


[7]https://scroll. in/latest/904600/bulandshahr-violence-was-part-of-a-big-conspiracy-says-uttar-pradesh-police-chief

[8]https://www. thestatesman. com/india/bulandshahr-violence-planned-conspiracy-claims-up-minister-op-rajbhar-1502713610.html

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