As the body of Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh, killed by a mob in Bulandshahr a day earlier, was being taken to the family home at Tarigawa near Etah for the final rites, his 17-year-old son Abhishek could only shake his head: “My father wanted me to be a good citizen, one who doesn’t incite violence in the name of religion. Today my father lost his life in this Hindu-Muslim dispute, whose father will it be tomorrow?”
Hours later, Abhishek and his elder brother Shray, a 21-year-old hoping to join the civil services, watched the flames leap from their father’s pyre. Singh’s colleagues, past and present, were in tears, and each had a story to share about the Inspector. In fact, all of Tarigawa was there to bid him a final farewell. Farrukhabad MP Mukesh Rajput and Aliganj MLA Satyapal Singh Rathaur, both from BJP, too were in the crowd.
The family’s moment of grief knew no privacy. Reporters rained questions on the distraught brothers, asking them if their father’s killing by a mob protesting alleged cow slaughter was in any manner linked to his investigation of the 2015 lynching of Dadri resident Mohd Akhlaq over rumours of cow slaughter and beef consumption.
Finally, Shray replied: “I really don’t know. I trust the police to do their job. Until then, I don’t want to react to any rumour. But I do want to say that people have become intolerant. As a society, we have to think. We should not take the law into our hands. The police are there.”
Their mother Rajni was inconsolable. Singh’s batchmate P P Singh, posted as Circle Officer in Bareilly, handed her a mobile phone, saying the Bulandshahr SSP was on the line. She could only mumble: “He was your SO once, remember. Hame toh koi batata bhi nahin hai ki kya hua hai… Insaan to wapas nahi aayega ab (No one tells me what happened, he will not return).”
Earlier, Singh’s body was brought to the family home and placed in a courtyard for all to pay their respect. Emotions ran high. His brother Atul told reporters: “A BJP leader said Subodh died due to a heart attack whereas he had been shot. He must apologise, otherwise the body will not be moved from here.”
Cousin Manisha told the MP and MLA: “My brother died investigating the death of a cow. The Yogi government makes a hue and cry about gau raksha, gau raksha. And now he does not even visit the home of a dead policeman… He investigated the Akhlaq case, I think he was killed because of that. Sab saazish hai (it is all a conspiracy).”
She demanded a school in the name of her brother. MLA Rathaur told her: “I spoke to Yogi Adityanathji, he is currently in Telangana. He will be back tonight, he has assured us.”
Earlier, MP Rajput told reporters that violence over cow protection cannot be justified. “Rather, one should go on a hunger strike to save the cow,” he said. Asked whether one of the accused is a member of the Bajrang Dal, he said: “A criminal is a criminal, whether he is from the BJP, Congress, SP or wherever.”
Shray said he would take up the state government offer of a job and prepare for the civil services examination. “My grandfather, my father… now I will be the one. I will take up the job, and continue preparing for the UPSC,” he said.
Raj Kumar Sharma, SHO at Kavi Nagar in Ghaziabad, wept as he watched his batchmate’s body: “Granting a job on compensatory grounds has been discontinued. The government and police are trying to do whatever they can. He was a great friend, and a brave man.”
Singh was accorded full honours before the cremation. Shray couldn’t help recall two instances in the past when his father had a close call. In 2002, a bullet pierced his neck during an encounter in Meerut. He eventually got back to work. In 2017, while he was trying to catch a thief, a bullet grazed his hand. “He was twice lucky, but not yesterday,” the son said.