Diwali will be a feeki (low-key) affair this year in Bisara village in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri district, according to its residents.
On September 28, 50-year old Mohammad Akhlaq, a long-time resident of the village, was beaten to death over rumours of storing and eating cow meat. Ten residents of the village, including a minor, have been arrested in connection with his death.
“A man has died and our children are in jail. The atmosphere in the village is such that no one wants to celebrate here. Is baar Diwali feeki hogi (Diwali will be low-key this year),” said Om Mahesh, a resident of Bisara. His son, a homeguard, had been questioned by the police in connection with Akhlaq’s death.
In an effort to build trust among the members of different communities in Dadri area, the local administration has been holding peace committee meetings and other events in various villages. One such event — a Sadbhavna Kabaddi Tournament — was held in Bisara on Monday and Tuesday.
“Such efforts are being made by the administration to bring people together. It is commendable. However, the damage has been done. An incident took place…a man was killed and our children have been in jail ever since. What reason do we have to celebrate,”said Sanjay Rana, a local BJP leader whose son, Vishal, is one of the accused.
At the tournament, senior police officials spoke to Bisara residents about utilising their energy in a positive manner and the importance of team spirit. “If one person makes a mistake in a match, the entire team’s chances are affected. The same holds true for your life. The team-spirit and sporting sentiments… should be replicated in your life, your village, your community,” said Kiran S, senior superintendent of police (Gautam Budh Nagar).
Ashutosh Kumar, Deputy Inspector General (Meerut Division) said, “The administration felt that there was a lot of energy among the youth here. It should not be used for destructive activities, it should be channelised in a positive manner.”