Where is Uttar Pradesh headed to? The State, it seems, has become unsafe even for the enforcers of the law.
After the lynching of an inspector at Bulandshahr, another policeman became the victim of mob fury in the same month, in Gazipur.
Now some chilling details of the Bulandshahr incident have come to the fore after the arrest of the main accused: Inspector Subodh Kant Singh was first attacked with stones, sticks and an axe, and then shot dead with his service revolver at point blank range.
What is appalling is that the inspector was attacked by the mob when he and his team had gone to a village to defuse tension after cow carcasses were found in a forest.
It is shocking that the Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, is himself facing accusations of shielding the inspector’s killers.
A day after the incident, Adityanath held a high-level meeting in Lucknow and told his officials to take tough action against those who carried out cow slaughter. “The incident is part of a bigger conspiracy, and hence all those directly or indirectly related to cow slaughter should be arrested in a time-bound manner,” an official statement said, but failed to mention anything about the inspector’s death.
Scratch the surface and we see some light. Singh was part of the team that probed the 2015 Mohammad Akhlaq’s lynching in Dadri. He had the reputation of being independent and even-handed. His death came at a time when lakhs of Muslims were travelling to Bulandshahr for a Tablighi Jamaat’s ijtema (religious gathering). There is also something common between the lynchings of Subodh Kumar Singh and Mohammad Akhlaq: Both were killed in a clash triggered by a mob protesting cow slaughter.
Will the cows then sink Adityanath’s government? A big bunch of retired civil servants have termed the Bulandshahr violence “the most dangerous turn yet in the direction taken by the politics of hate in recent times”.
“It shows that in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, fundamental principles of governance, of constitutional ethics and of humane social conduct stand perverted….” they said in a letter.
The Bulandshahr episode, they said, follows a succession of events aimed at isolating and intimidating Muslim communities in U.P., and shows that hooliganism and thuggery have been mainstreamed into governance not just to intimidate minorities but to teach a lesson to anyone, including police personnel and others in the administration, who dare to be evenhanded in their approach to minority communities.
That is a sharp commentary on a chief minister, his government and his party. Even if such comments are dismissed as outpourings of “some loonies” with some set agenda, certain facts in the case are difficult to ignore: That the inspector was brutally killed by a mob instigated by some Bajrang Dal activists, that the UP administration was more concerned about killings of cows than about the lynching of the inspector.
Some facts outside of the case also cannot be ignored: That the Lok Sabha elections are drawing closer and Yogi Adityanath had faced a drubbing in by polls last year with the BJP candidate losing in Yogi’s own bastion of Gorakhpur. The opposition parties are asking: Are such incidents not part of attempts to incite communal unrest and polarise society ahead of the polls? The Yogi has denied all this and called the allegations against him and his government as a political conspiracy.
But the Yogi is at a crossroads. In days ahead his actions should speak more than words. If such incidents continue to happen, incidents that seek to divide society, then he will find it difficult to save his face, and UP will erupt in blaze.
Yashwardhan Joshi is a Journalist of long standing and commentator on issues of Administration and Social Issues.