The tragic case of a Muslim family being targeted on the rumour of consuming and storing beef in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh is one of the most disturbing incidents of intolerance in recent times, especially in a country assured of secularism and freedom of speech. But the political reactions to the killing seem to make it even more disturbing, if that is at all possible.
Union Minister Mahesh Sharma meets the Dadri victim’s family. PTI
A 50-year old man Mohammad Iqlakh was beaten to death and his 22-year-old son Danish was critically injured by a mob of 200 that barged into their house in Dadri on Monday night following rumours that the family had consumed beef.
From the ‘soul shaking’ over cow slaughter to ‘adding communal colour’, several politicians have used this opportunity to make a strong statement about the issue. The nature of these statements have been such that they almost shift focus from the case and reveal how any incident can be turned into a political mud-slinging match.
Here’s what various politicians had to say about the Dadri lynching incident:
The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister met the victim’s family in Lucknow and offered them financial assistance soon after the incident, assuring them that they will get justice. “I could not go to the village (Dadri) and so I felt it would be appropriate if I meet them here (Lucknow)… The family is in a state of shock. Nothing can make up for their loss. We can share their grief, but cannot erase the scene they witnessed. Though we cannot bring back what has been snatched from the family, I assured them that in this hour of grief and even in future, the government will stand by their side,” Yadav said.
Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma, who is also the elected representative of the constituency under which Dadri falls, had the most controversial things to say about the incident. Initially, he said that whole thing should be considered as an ‘accident’ which triggered massive protests.
On Sunday, in an interview with The Indian Express, he went on to elaborate about cow slaughter and how the victim’s 17-year-old daughter was left unharmed — which came across as a defence of the mob’s apparently virtuous nature.
” It (the murder) took place as a reaction to that incident (cow slaughter). You must also consider that there was also a 17-year-old daughter in that home. Kisi ne usey ungli nahin lagaayi,” he is quoted as saying. Gaay ke maans par hum logon ka… andar se aatma hilne lagti hai (On beef… our soul starts shaking). You can kill other animals, mutton, and people don’t (react)… (but) when you name cow… We have linked the cow with our mother.”
Sharma also cited his medical experience adding that the victim’s son, Danish, who was also attacked, is survived. “Whenever a person faces an attack by lathis, he thrusts his hands forward, and five to seven of his fingers are inevitably broken. I have 30 years’ experience as a doctor. He received at least 10-15 fractures in his body and fingers. Danish is admitted in my hospital. He does not have a single fracture in his entire body except a head injury that was caused when he was hit by a lathi. Maar diya hoga kisi shaitaan ne. But it means that the intention was not to lynch.”
Home Minister Rajnath Singh termed the killing as an ‘unfortunate incident’ but emphasised that it should not be taken as being more than that. “The incident should not be politicised, it is not proper to give communal colour to it,” he said at a function in New Delhi
Siddharth Nath Singh
The BJP secretary added to the party’s line of not turning the incident into a communal clash and counter-attacked the Uttar Pradesh government. In a statement reported by The Times of India he is quoted as saying, “Rather than shedding crocodile tears, Akhilesh Yadav should answer as to why his police wanted to do forensic test of meat sample when the issue should have been arresting the culprits of the most unfortunate and barbaric killing in Dadri. Was not his administration trying to give it a communal slant by ordering forensic test? What action does he propose to take against his minister Azam Khan who ranted on communal lines from day one of the incident?”
BJP MLA Sangeet Som, infamous for making controversial speeches during the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, made another uncalled for statement over the Dadri killing. According to a report by The Indian Express, Som declared, “Agar nirdoshon ke khilaf karyawahi ki gayi, to munh-tod jawab hamne pehle bhi diya hai aur abh bhi dena jante hain (If action is taken against innocent, we have given a befitting reply earlier and can do so again). We can give a reply whenever we want.” He made this statements at a temple on the outskirts of Bisara, near where the incident occurred.
He also attacked the Uttar Pradesh government and accused the victim’s family of the crime of cow slaughter. “They (the Akhlaq family) were taken by the Uttar Pradesh government (to Lucknow) in an airplane. How they treated the accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots, they are treating those who have slaughtered a cow the same way,” he was quoted as saying.
Congress termed the case as ‘politico-ideological murder’, attacking the BJP government. “This is a politico-ideological murder. There are some people who are trying to change the narrative of the country. They want that the minority should be second grade citizens. The government wants to dictate as to what people should eat, what people should wear, how people should talk. So this is an issue on which all progressive, liberal and right thinking need to stand together,” Manish Tewari said.
JD(U) also hit out at the BJP with Sharad Yadav issuing a statement saying, “Since the present government came to power, the incidents of communal riots are increasing due to their ideology which is not in consonance with the Constitution that provides a secular society. The lynching of Mohammad Ikhlaq in Dadri over rumour that he ate beef was horrible and deplorable.”
Muslim right wing All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), leader Asaduddin Owaisi visited the family and attacked the Samajwadi Party government of communal motivations. “This wasn’t an attack over meat. He has been killed in the name of religion. This is a pre-planned, cold-blooded killing. It cannot be an accident. This is the thought which is against secularism, it is against the brotherhood of India. It sees Muslims with an eye of suspicion,” he said
BSP chief Mayawati blamed the Uttar Pradesh government for the Dadri lynching. “More than the anarchic and criminal elements in BJP-RSS, it is the Akhilesh Yadav government which is to be blamed… not just in Dadri, but at other places too. People are out to spoil the atmosphere yet the government is not taking action against them. The state government is neither taking action on its own nor letting the local police do the same…the main reason for this is they believe that they can survive only in such an atmosphere,” she said in a press statement.
With inputs from agencies