A 35-year-old man, identified as Desh Raj, was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police on Monday for allegedly desecrating two temples last week by leaving buffalo carcasses inside and writing hate messages on the wall. His aim, he told police, was to ensure that “koi masjid na rahe, sirf mandir rahe (no mosques should remain, only temples should remain)”.
He also confessed during interrogation that he had left a dog’s carcass inside a mosque last week to fuel communal hatred.
According to the police, Raj was unemployed and spent most of his time praying and reading books on astronomy. “We have arrested him and are interrogating him. He was arrested from Parsauli village after we received information about his involvement in desecration of temples. His family claims he has a mental disorder; we will will check on that later,” Muzaffarnagar ASP Alok Priyadarshi said.
On December 15, parts of a buffalo carcass were found on the premises of a temple in Parsauli. Also inscribed on the temple wall was an inflammatory message referring to the Islamic State. On December 20, parts of a buffalo carcass were found inside another temple in the area, and an idol of ‘Nandi’ was reportedly found missing. After news spread, locals gathered outside the temple and prevented police from trying to remove the carcass.
Security had to be beefed up after the second incident. “Parsauli has an equal share of Hindus and Muslims. But next to the village is Jhola, where most of the displaced Muslims from Fugana areas were given land to settle down after the Muzaffarnagar riots,” said a senior police officer.
Sources said this change in demographic upset Desh Raj. “We have recovered a number of maps that he drew on which he marked out mosques and temples. He said he put the meat in temples because he wanted to spread hatred. He told us he wanted to make sure that ‘koi masjid na rahe, sirf mandir rahe’,” said an officer.
The police said that during interrogation he also admitted that he had left a dog’s carcass inside a mosque in the village. “He admitted that he killed the dog and then tied it up and left it hanging in the mosque. We have confirmed this with the imam of the mosque. After they found the dog, they hurriedly removed the carcass because they didn’t want more violence,” said the officer.
The police said that since both incidents of desecration took place in the same village, chances were that the culprit would be from the village as well. “We started asking around and eventually people said that he was a possible suspect. We put him on surveillance and eventually arrested him,” said the officer.
The UP unit of the Shiv Sena had threatened to hold a Hindu mahapanchayat in the district if the culprit was not caught.