August 17, 2018 5:11:42 am
The streets of Auraiya’s Kudarkot village were largely deserted on Thursday, a day after two priests were found murdered and another critically injured on the premises of a temple. Amid regular raids by the police, who suspect that the priests may have been targeted for informing local police about alleged cow slaughter near the temple, several male members of Muslim families residing in the village went missing. Some women and children were seen outside. The rest, including the elderly, mostly stayed home.
On Wednesday morning, a local resident who had gone to offer prayers found the priests lying in a pool of blood in the verandah of the Bhayanak Nath Mahadev temple, located on the outskirts of the village. They were also tied to their cots, said Bidhoona’s circle officer, Bhaskar Verma.
The deceased were identified as Lajja Ram Yadav (65) and Har Bhajan (57). Ram Saran, another priest, is undergoing treatment. Doctors said he is in critical condition. In his police complaint, Lajja Ram’s brother Ram Krishna Yadav said his brother and the other two priests used to oppose cow slaughter and had recently informed the police about some local residents being involved in the same. His complaint also mentioned his suspicions that those involved in the alleged cow slaughter, were also behind the murders.
Later in the say, angry local residents had resorted to arson and blocked the Auraiya-Etawah road, demanding arrests. A police team rushed to the spot and used tear gas to disperse the crowd. The situation was brought under control when senior police officers assured that the accused will be arrested, said CO Verma.
Auraiya SP Nageshwar Singh suspended station house officer of Bidhoona police station Akhilesh Mishra and constable Islam on charges of negligence. Heavy police force was deployed at Kudarkot village as a precautionary measure.
Over the last fortnight, two cases were lodged in connection with alleged cow slaughter (see box). Two arrests were made, while seven suspects are absconding. The suspects are members of the Qureshi (butchers) community. The village has a 40% Muslim population.
On Thursday, 20 people including men and women were found detained for questioning at Kudarkot police outpost. Among those detained is 30-year-old Mohammad Jabid, who was picked from near his house Thursday. Jabid’s wife Salma told The Indian Express that her husband had been out of town for last the two days. She said the police had “wrongly” picked him up.
Badshah Alam (65), a resident of this village, alleged that the police are “harassing” members of the Muslim community in the name of investigation. “Members of the Qureshi community, who shifted to Kudarkot village from Dalelnagar area few years back, are involved in the slaughtering business. But police are harassing all Muslim families of the village. Even women members,” he claimed.
Kudarkot village head Ravindra Babu said, “Most male members of Muslim families have left the village fearing police action. Women members of some families had come to me today claiming their family members were innocent. I told them I am helpless the because matter is sensitive.”
Members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s ‘Gau Raksha’ unit sat outside the outpost since morning. Gau Raksha pramukh (head) of Etawah and Auraiya districts, Namo Narayan Awasthi, told this newspaper, “We have been sitting here to see what police are doing in the matter.
We had gone to the village as well to check the situation. We have learnt from local residents that the murders took place because the victims had informed police about cow slaughter. Now we have found that police investigation is headed in the right direction.”
Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP), Auraiya, Rajesh Kumar Saxena said, “Police are trying to trace murder suspects. A few local youths escaped fearing police action. Around 20 persons including men and women are being questioned and they have provided leads in the case. No one has been arrested so far.”
“No action will be taken against the innocent and they will be released after questioning,” he added.
Auraiya SP Nageshwar Singh said they are probing the role of those wanted in two cow slaughter cases. “The post-mortem reports are still awaited. Lajja Ram’s death appeared to have been caused by a blunt object. The other victim was attacked with a sharp-edged weapon.
The injured priest may also have been attacked with a blunt object,” he added.
The SP further said that a departmental inquiry had been initiated against constable Islam. “Local residents have alleged that he used to alert those involved in cow slaughter about police raids. He played no role in the (priests’) murder. If we find anything against him, action will be taken,” he added.
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