Two days after 50-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq was killed in Dadri following rumours that he and his family were storing and consuming beef, BJP leaders from Uttar Pradesh suggested that if there was beef in the house, the victim was at fault. They also said the accused should be charged with culpable homicide and not murder, threatening to hold a mahapanchayat in Bisara village if their demands were not met.
“The man did not die because of the injuries but because of shock when someone (wrongly) told him his son was dead. This happens every day. When we hurt people’s sentiments, such clashes take place. This was not a communal riot. The Hindu community worships cows. Whose blood won’t boil if they see cow slaughter?” Shrichand Sharma, vice-president of BJP’s western UP unit, told The Indian Express.
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Nawab Singh Nagar, a former BJP MLA from Dadri, said, “If cow slaughter and its consumption is proven, they (the victim and his family) are definitely at fault. There is a ban on slaughter of cows and this concerns the faith of Hindus. It is obvious that such an incident will lead to anger among people and there will be communal tension. If this was the case, the family is in the wrong. If they have consumed beef, they are also responsible. This is a village of Thakurs and they express their sentiments in a very strong way. If they have done this, they should have kept in mind what the reaction would be.”
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Police said they have sent samples of meat taken from Akhlaq’s home “to the forensics department for examination”. Akhlaq’s daughter, Sajida, said the family had “mutton in the fridge” and not beef.
Stating that it was not a “planned incident”, Nagar told The Indian Express, “When religious sentiments of people are hurt, they get agitated and this sudden anger leads to such incidents.”
While BJP and BSP leaders visited Bisara and met the family of the victim as well as relatives of the six accused, the ruling Samajwadi Party stayed away from the village. The Samajwadi Party did not make any statement on the incident either, issuing only a press release in the evening.
Sharma blamed the state administration for the incident and said it appeared to be biased towards a particular community. He added that BJP leaders will meet district authorities Thursday with a list of five demands. “We have come to know that a case has been registered under IPC sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder). But this was not a planned murder. There was a clash and in the ensuing fight, a man died. The police should have registered a case under IPC 304 (punishment for culpable homicide). This is culpable homicide and not murder.”
Sharma further said the police should register a case against the victim’s family. “The entire incident took place because of alleged cow slaughter. An FIR should have been registered on this,” he said. “Fear has been generated in the village with people being threatened with arrests. This kind of behaviour by the administration should be stopped. Unless the administration, district magistrate and other officials sit with us and listen to our demands, we will go ahead with our agenda. We have planned a mahapanchayat in Bisara on October 11… From Friday, we will go from village to village and mobilise people. We will not tolerate harassment,” he added.
Sharma also said a case should be registered against police officials for injuring 22-year-old Rahul Yadav in clashes that took place after Akhlaq’s killing.
With ENS Lucknow