Giving a 20-day ultimatum to the administration for registering a case against the family of 50-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq for alleged cow slaughter and beef consumption, residents of Bisara village in Dadri on Monday warned that they will no longer be able to contain “public anger”.
The demand was raised during a village meeting at the local temple, from where an announcement was allegedly made on the night of September 28 last year, asking residents to assemble since a cow had been slaughtered. Later that day, a mob assembled outside Akhlaq’s house and beat him to death.
Today’s meeting comes six days after a report from a forensic lab in Mathura said that the meat sample taken from outside Akhlaq’s house belonged to a “cow or its progeny”. Following this, a section of Bisara residents had approached police, urging them to register an FIR against Akhlaq’s family for killing a cow and consuming beef.
“The issue of cow is an issue of our faith. We are peace-loving and we believe in the justice system. However, in 20 days, the government should look at all alternatives and listen to our demands. Otherwise, the capacity to contain this public anger might not exist in my village,” said Sanjay Rana, local BJP leader and father of an accused in the case.
Voicing similar views, Bagh Singh, a former village head, said, “If the administration does not pay heed to our demands and register a case of cow slaughter, we will be forced to take action.”
Referring to the Dadri issue being raised by BJP leaders, MP Yogi Adityanath and Union Minister Sanjeev Baliyan, in Parliament, Pratap Singh Sisodia, another former village chief, said, “If innocent children (the accused) are not given fair treatment, we will organise a mahapanchayat, even immolate ourselves.”
Apart from residents of Bisara, including families of 18 accused in the case, a group of local Shiv Sena members also attended the meeting.
Mahesh Kumar Ahuja, who claimed to be the head of Shiv Sena’s Western Uttar Pradesh wing, demanded a CBI inquiry into the case. He claimed that Akhlaq had been unwell, which could have been a reason for his death.
“A case of cow slaughter should be registered against all those who were staying at Akhlaq’s house. In UP, killing a cow and eating beef is illegal. We do not understand why Akhlaq’s family and the Chief Minister do not want to conduct a CBI inquiry. Akhlaq was not killed by people from here. The CBI inquiry will show that he was unwell and died on his own,” Ahuja said.
Raising concerns about his son, UP Home guard constable Vinay, being made an accused in the case, Bisara resident Om Mahesh said, “We are also saddened by what happened on the night of September 28. A man died. He should not have died. But the action taken by our administration was biased and full of cowardice. The police scaled walls, entered our houses, woke up our sleeping children and sent them to jail without any probe. For months, I have been in pain. My son who used to work with the police was picked up when he was on duty and questioned for six days. The DM and SSP questioned him. They gave him a clean chit and let him off after six days. But it became a matter of contention as to how this man was let off.”
Alleging administrative bias, Mahesh said, “I want to ask the Chief Minister, don’t Hindus vote for him and his government? Do only Muslims vote for them? Our children are in jail because a man died. This report made it clear that the man had killed a cow. Why should a case not be registered? Why shouldn’t his family be in jail when our children are in jail? Why are you saving the guilty? They should be sent to jail and action should be taken against them.”
The meeting took place amid heavy security with senior police officers and district administration officials reaching Bisara to ensure that “no untoward incident takes place.” “Section 144 has been imposed in the area since the time of the panchayat polls. But gatherings at religious centres are allowed,” a senior police officer said.
Gautam Budh Nagar District Magistrate N P Singh maintained that meetings with Bisara residents had taken place earlier, during which they had been asked to ensure peace. “We had told them that there are several alternatives available in a democracy if they feel police is not listening to them. The matter is sub-judice. There is no need to take to the streets,” Singh said.