The Uttar Pradesh government's decision on Monday to invoke the draconian National Security Act (NSA) against three men accused of cow slaughter last month was triggered by fears that the release of the accused could incite supporters of right-wing groups to more violence. "All three of them- Haji Mehboob, Nadeem Chaudhary and Azhal Ali- could have vitiated the communal harmony if they were granted bail," said Anuj Kumar Jha, the District Magistrate of Bulandshahr.
The alleged cow slaughter incident on December 2 had triggered a spate of violence the next day, apparently ring-leadered by activists from Bajrang Dal, that resulted in the death of a policeman and a local. At least nine men from the Muslim community were arrested on allegations of cow-slaughter, three of who have been slapped by the NSA.
Bajrang Dal's Yogesh Raj, the main accused in the killing of cop Subodh Kumar, also seen in the video from December 3, could only be arrested on January 2, after being in hiding for almost a month. However, during the period, Raj had been regularly sending out videos on social media platforms, in which he is heard justifying the violence.
According to the local advocate Mohammad Afaaq, who is defending the cow-slaughter accused in the court, Nadeem Chaudhary is a national-level shooter and has been ailing, with only one of his kidneys functioning. His bail application did mention, while the police could not provide any evidence against the second accused. Therefore, it was expected that the court would grant bail to both of them. But the administration wants to forcefully keep them in jail and with this intention, the action under NSA was taken immediately. “This incident in Siyana was an unfortunate one, but the police should not take one-sided action,” said Afaaq.
According to a Samajwadi Party leader from Bulandshahr, Majid Ali, the administration has taken this strep just to please the Hindutva groups. “The accused in Inspector Subodh Singh’s murder is being presented as a hero. Several hoardings carrying his photos can be seen all across Bulandshahr,” Ali said.
“The action by the police is not at all right or justified,” he added.
Forty-four days have passed since the incident of violence. Twenty seven persons were named and cases against 50 others were filed. An important thing to note here is that the nine accused involved in the riot are still at large. The main accused Yogesh Raj is in jail.
Thirty-six persons have been arrested so far. Kalua, aka Rajiv, who attacked Inspector Subodh Singh with an axe, and Prashant Nath, who shot the inspector, were arrested by the police after investigation. The hoardings of Yogesh Raj, the main accused in the murder of Inspector Subodh Singh, greeting people on the occasion of Makar Sankranti can be seen all over Bulandshahr.
The police had arrested 17 accused on the basis of a video footage. But the police have not, as yet, filed any petition for confiscation in the court against these accused. Immediate NSA action against the accused of cow slaughter and lackadaisical attitude towards the accused of murder raises serious questions on the intention of the state government.
According to SP (City), Atul Shrivastav, all of them will be arrested at any cost and confiscation proceedings will be carried out against them. He didn’t respond to the question on the photo of the accused appearing on the hoardings.
Prior to this, the Chief Minister of UP, Yogi Adityanath, had already said that incident of cow slaughter should be taken seriously. After the incident, the Chief Minister had issued guidelines on the Bulandshahr violence, which did not even mention the name of Inspector Subodh.
The lenient attitude of the police towards the accused of Inspector Subodh Singh’s murder raises question on the style of their functioning. It seems that the local administration is now working only to please the Hindu organisations. The one-sided police action has raised many questions.