December 3 saw a cop, Station House Officer of Syana police station Subodh Kumar Singh and an under-graduate student Sumit Singh being killed in mob violence in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr sending shock waves across the country. The reason for the violence was an alleged case of cow slaughter.
While the police have been able to arrest an Army man – Jitendra Malik, who has since been sent to 14 days jail, and four others for the killing of Singh, the main accused Yogeshraj Singh is still on the run.
But it is not a one-off incident. Police in rural Bulandshahr have had to face mob fury in several instances in the past one year, but nobody had been killed till now.
Tension has been simmering in the Syana area with the rise in the activities of the Bajrang Dal in the recent past coupled with a long-standing dispute over a mosque and the use of loudspeakers for religious purposes.
The cop killed, Subodh Kumar Singh was the first investigating officer of the Dadri lynching case in 2015. The case pertains to the killing of Mohammed Akhlaq over rumours of beef eating and cow slaughter.
The police have gone ahead and arrested four persons in the cow slaughter case acting on the complaint of Yogeshraj, an active member of the Bajrang Dal. Yogeshraj had first filed a police complaint against the use of loudspeakers on the mosque during Ramzan of 2016 and also led protests against such use of loudspeakers. In his complaint, Yogeshraj had said that as per the records the mosque was a madrassa.
In a bid to keep the simmering tension under control the police had directed the mosque authorities to take down the loudspeakers and at the same time ordered that loudspeakers from the village temple be also removed.
One of the people arrested in the cow slaughter case is Mohd Sarfuddin, the manager of the Nayabans village mosque. The others who have been arrested are Sajid, Asif and Nanhe. Sajid is the owner of a plot adjacent to the mosque. This land is often used for community functions.
All the four who have been sent to judicial custody vehemently deny any role in the cow slaughter. In fact, Sajid says that he does not even stay in Nayabans these days having shifted base to Faridabad.
Sarfuddin who was called to the Syana police station as his name was there in the FIR and thereafter arrested denies any role in the incident. In fact, he says that he told the police that he was not even present in the village when the incident happened as he was attending the Tablighi Ijtema 50 km away.
Apart from the four arrested Yogeshraj had also named Ilyas, Sudaif Chowdhary, and Parvez in his complaint. Police officers surmise that Yogeshraj used the cow carcasses issue to get even with these people.
The police had also called two more suspects for questioning twice in the case. The two suspects were 11-year-old and 12-year-old schoolboys making people wonder as to how such small kids could kill cows. Regular rallies by the Bajrang Dal in which not only were provocative slogans raised but swords and weapons were also brandished with impunity have led to the simmering tension in the village that has not seen such tension since 1977.
Another point of contention in this village with about 200 Muslim households is the mosque that was demolished in 1977. The residents of the village say that a case related to this mosque, very near to the existing mosque, is pending in the Allahabad High Court.
Yogeshraj who had claimed in his complaint to the police that he had seen Sarfuddin and others slaughter the cows in Mahav village later in a video posted from an undisclosed location on Wednesday changed his statement. The video shows him saying that he went to Mahav village after getting information about cow carcasses.
Whereas local residents have said that they found the carcasses in the morning when they were going to their fields.
Villagers point out to the laxity of police to act against Yogeshraj that has resulted in the deteriorating communal situation in the village. Despite several complaints against him, no action was taken against Yogeshraj opine villagers. The UP government has ordered a magisterial probe in the entire incident.