A CPI(M) delegation comprising of Brinda Karat and Subhashini Ali (PB members), Surinder Singh (member, state secretariat, CPIM) and Jagveer Bhatti (district committee member, CPIM) visited Naya Bas and Chindraoti villages in Siyana block, Bulandshahar on January 5. This visit, a month after the violence had taken place on December 3 was in the nature of a follow up fact finding to the first CPI(M) delegation which had visited the area soon after the violent incidents in which a police officer Subodh Kumar Singh and another person, Sumit were killed. Along with Mahba village, these are the villages directly impacted by the incident. Yogesh Raj, the Bajrang Dal leader belongs to Naya Baas village.
The delegation met a number of people of the area. These included the persons who had been falsely arrested, the families of those now arrested on the charge of cow slaughter, the former pradhan of village Mahba where the cow carcasses were found; residents of the area; the pradhan of Chindraoti village, the family of the young man Sumit killed in police firing.
After detailed discussions the delegation’s findings/ conclusions are as follows:
1. A deliberate and motivated effort is being made by the state government to concentrate attention on the ‘cow killing’ aspect of the case and to deflect attention from the heinous murder committed on December 3, 2018. The SIT was formed to achieve this end.
2. The SIT is working under pressure of the state government and cannot be expected to have any impartial probe. The second round of arrests for so-called cow slaughter is as deeply flawed as the first round of arrests in which all those named by the key conspirator Yogesh Raj were arrested by the police but within a fortnight had to be released as being innocent. Seven more people have been arrested among them surprisingly, Arvind Sharma the son of Khemchand Sharma, the President of the Brahmin Samaj. His only crime is that his best friend is a Muslim—Mehboob, a well known social worker of the area. Everyone we met in the area was astonished by these arrests. So it can be said that in UP under the Adityanath government, it is not just inter community marriages that are considered a crime under “love jihad” but even inter community friendships which are liable to be punished, since the only crime committed by Arvind and Mehboob is their friendship.
3. The new theory being floated by the SIT is that the cows were shot and then cut up. Muslims, like Mehboob with licenced guns have been targeted. Another example is of Nadeem, a recognized national team player in rifle shooting who has a licensed gun has also been arrested. His old gypsy van which has been out of use for months; is according to the police, the vehicle used in the “crime.”
4. In fact the entire incident of so-called cow slaughter requires an impartial probe. If the sequence of events is examined carefully, it becomes highly possible that the cow-meat was brought to the field on the intervening night of December 2 and was prominently displayed by those determined to incite violence and rioting. Who did the cows belong to? Has there been any report of missing cows in the village?
5. People of the area said that it is very difficult to accept that a group of Muslims could get into the field of a farmer in Mahba village to kill the cows. All the houses and fields in this area are owned by Hindus. Because of the acute problem of stray cows destroying standing crops, farmers either themselves or through hired labour protect their fields. Premjit, the former pradhan of the village and brother of the farmer in whose field the cows are alleged to have been slaughtered, told the delegation that there were hired labour on the field. It is they who in the early hours of Dec 3 reported the find of remains of cows. Surely they would have heard gunshots or of any other type of slaughter, if such an incident had taken place.
6. The possibility of there having been a conspiracy is substantiated by the reports given to the delegation of meetings being held in both Siyana and Naya Baas organized by the sanghparivar and addressed by Yogesh Raj on December 2. People said that the Ejitimaan being held in Bulandshahar district attended by lakhs of Muslims was mentioned in the meetings.
7. Public statements given in the first instance by the tehsildar Rajkumar Bhaskar (Hindustan Times, December 4) had said as much, terming it a “conspiracy.” However he declined to speak on the issue to the delegation saying that he had been asked only to speak to the SIT. In this context, the swift role of the administration to divert the thousands returning from the function, from the disturbed area which would have been the normal route, averted what could have turned out to be a terrible communal conflagration, similar to what occurred in Muzaffarnagar in 2013. However, the incidents of the cow carcasses being provocatively displayed could have been precisely to ensure that such a communal incident took place.
8. For all these reasons it is essential to have an impartial probe which could be a time bound probe under a sitting judge monitored by the High Court.
9. The wider impact of the toxic politics of the sangh parivar and the impact on lives of ordinary people was also clear in the narration of farmers of the problems they are facing. Most able bodied men have left the area in fear of police arrests. Hired labour have been terrorized and many have fled the area. There is no one to cut the standing sugarcane leading to trouble for farmers.
The politics has also impacted on those in the dairy business. This was exemplified by the experience of a senior citizen Sharif Khan. He is the uncle of Safruddin who had been wrongly arrested and then released. He told the delegation that so widespread is the fear in the Muslim community that they are having to give up the dairy business. He himself had bought a cow for Rs 34,000. He has given it away free to a Brahmin widow in his village as he is terrified that if something happened to the cow, he would be arrested.
10. The tragic plight of the family of Sumit, the man who was shot, is also proof of how the politics of the sangh parivar destroys young lives. Sumit a student in Noida was home for medical treatment when he heard the noise. The circumstances of his joining the crowd are disputed with his family informing the delegation that his presence there was fortuitous and others of the village saying that he had knowingly joined the riotous crowd. The point is how the deliberate plan of the sangh parivar and their leaders like Yogesh Raj, can so destroy young lives.
11. While the police took weeks to find the main accused Yogesh Raj, others directly involved in the violence such as one UpendraY adav known as “guruji” are yet to be arrested, sweeping arrests to demonstrate “action” include arrests of those not involved. For example the arrest of 80 year old senior citizen Chandra Pal Singh and also Raj Singh the farmer on whose field the carcasses were found and who was the first to inform the police are considered strange. Such actions on behalf of the police have led to a questioning of the credibility of the probe which seems to be designed to protect the main culprits since they belong to the sangh parivar and have been active in the area in the name of various organisations.
Conclusion: The inquiry into the December 3 incidents is being influenced by the narrow agenda of the UP government. While the main criminals in the killing of the police officer and the violence are sought to be protected, innocent people have been arrested in the name of cow slaughter. The government has no interest in finding out whether the entire incident was planned by certain groups who would benefit from communal violence in the area. For this reason it is essential to have a probe under a sitting judge of the High Court in a time bound manner. This is also essential to prevent similar incidents in the lead up to the Lok Sabha elections.