Yogesh Raj, Accused Number 1 in the FIR in the killing of Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh is a second-year LLB student who rose to prominence in Bulandshahr’s Nayabas village by targeting suspected “eve-teasers,” intervening in domestic disputes and going on raids against alleged cattle smugglers.
Bulandshahr police said that Raj is affiliated with the local Bajrang Dal unit as a zila sanyojak (district coordinator) and is on the run. Police have arrested four persons in the case and detained several others while an SIT has been constituted to investigate the entire sequence of events leading to the SHO’s death.
Until late tonight, The Indian Express tracked down families of nine men of the 27 named in the FIR. The FIR also mentions 50-60 unnamed persons. All nine have studied until at least Class X and most are farmers by profession.
According to their families, barring two, none have political affiliations, even though most of them have at some point expressed anger over alleged cow smuggling.
The accused come from three villages near Siyana and a majority of them are Jats barring the accused from Nayabas village who are from the Lodh Rajput community.
The families of the accused woke up to police raids last Tuesday night, with many alleging they were assaulted by the police officers who also broke household appliances.
Yogesh Raj (25), LLB student and Bajrang Dal activist
Locals have crowded Raj’s residence, a saffron house with the map of Akhand Bharat at the entrance. His sister, Seema, said that Yogesh has been a Bajrang Dal member since he was 16. “(On Monday), he took his exams and then got a call from other members of the Bajrang Dal. He went to the area where the carcasses were found and came back in the night (after the violence). He told me not to worry and left, but has not returned since,” Seema said.
The college, however, said there was no such exam on Monday. The FIR states he was among the first ones to discover the carcasses.
Raj’s family owns two bighas and two houses. His father is a farmer and owns two buffaloes. His family lives among the Lodh Rajput community where Raj is known to “fix” domestic disputes and for his hardline stand against cow slaughter. “He was very decisive from a young age. He decided to become a lawyer and had a strict routine. Yoga in the morning and studies until evening. He would go around asking people to tip him off on cow smugglers,” Seema said. Currently, a six-man team is trying to trace Raj.
Devender (55) and son Chaman (21), farmer and UP police aspirant
The father-son duo were arrested by a 15-man team Tuesday. While Devender is a farmer who, his family claims, never displayed political affiliations, his son, Chaman, is a Class XII graduate trying to get selected into the UP Police.
“My son had an exam in January. He was attending tuition at the time (of the violence). He was sleeping when police took him. If I knew he was named in the FIR, I would have asked him to flee,” his mother Bhuri claimed.
The four-member family comprising the two accused, Bhuri and her 18-year-old daughter, have three bighas. The family claims that Chaman was in touch with Yogesh Raj but never got involved in cow vigilantism. Her husband expressed his displeasure at cow killings but never went past expressing his views in public, his family said.
Raj Kumar (36), former pradhan
Just two years ago, people used to gather outside the gates of Kumar’s house seeking his counsel. Now locals are careful not to go near the home as Kumar is at the centre of the flashpoint. Police said Kumar claimed he was the first one to see “cow carcasses” in his field. The former pradhan of Chingrauti village, he is the father of two children aged 13 and 8.
Apart from owning around 10 bighas and the fields he shares with his cousin, he is primarily a dairy farmer and relies on his four buffaloes and two cows for income. He studied till Class XII and has admitted his children to a private school near Bulandshahr. “My husband was never affiliated with any political party and his only misfortune was that the carcasses were found in his field,” his wife said.
Jitender Malik (24), Armyman
Jitender Malik’s mother Ratan Kaur crouches on the ground as she points towards the broken windshield of a grey Maruti Suzuki car with an AK-47 sticker and a stickers reading ‘Jaat’, ‘Army’ and ‘Malik’.
His mother said that Malik recently enrolled in the Army and was posted in Srinagar. “My son used to drive around in the car after he got into the Army. Police damaged it when they came looking for him,” Kaur said. His neighbours and mother described him as a “pure vegetarian” who would take offence if other people spoke about consuming meat. His mother said that before he got into the Army, he would stop trucks carrying cattle and “admonish them for keeping the animals in a confined space”.
Mukesh (30), driver
Mukesh had come home from Ghaziabad two days ago and rushed out Tuesday morning when he heard about alleged cow cacasses being found. “I could not stop him. He used to go on raids to catch cow smugglers. My son has stopped several vehicles passing through our village. This was the first time a slaughter took place here,” his mother Chandawati said .
The son of a local priest, Mukesh drove a vehicle for a living in Ghaziabad. He was recently married and his wife left for her ancestral village around one month ago. His mother tills fields and his father had six cows until a few months ago when five died due to an illness. “We are dependant on the cows for a living. In our village, even the loss of one cow can set a family back. I understand why he would get angry at the carcasses,” his father Brahm Singh said.
Sachin (35), farmer, and BJP volunteer
Sachin’s mother Saroj Devi does not let anyone enter her house, which has a cow shed in the entrance, in Mahao village. “My son was a local BJP volunteer and spoke passionately about Ram Mandir and a corruption-free India.”
Sachin studied until Class XII and his family owns 5 bighas and six buffaloes. His family described him as a hot-headed speaker who would get angry listening about alleged cow slaughter. Sachin is a farmer by profession and works with his father, selling milk in the locality.
Vineet (30), unemployed
Vineet’s house wore a vacant look on Wednesday with only the cows he owns outside. His aunt Rajbiri said Vineet has studied till Class XII and has an eight-year-old son. “His cows died recently die to illness. He was looking forward to attending a medical camp for cows which got cancelled due to the violence,” Rajbiri said. His parents have fled Mahao village following police raids.
Tinku (18), unemployed
Tinku’s grandmother Shanti Devi lay on her charpoy, unable to get up. She said Tinku attended a course in Delhi recently but could not complete it. “He used to work the fields with his father,” his grandmother said. An aunt says his family was trying to land him a private job and he “did not have time to occupy himself with cow vigilantism.”