Man lynched on cow slaughter rumour day after Eid in Pilkhuwa near Dadri

Another Dadri rears its head in Uttar Pradesh after a man was killed on a rumour that he had killed a cow in Pilkhuwa, Hapur district. Locals alleged it was a planned murder to cause communal riots

Man lynched on cow slaughter rumour day after Eid in Pilkhuwa near Dadri
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Aas Mohd Kaif

Hate politics has given rise to another Dadri in Western Uttar Pradesh, after a 50-year-old unwell man was tortured and beaten to death the day after Eid-ul-Fitr, June 18, based on a rumour that he had slaughtered a cow in Bajhera village of Pilkhuwa, just 50 km from Delhi off the Delhi-Lucknow highway in Hapur district. A 62-year-old farmer who tried to come to Qasim Qureshi’s rescue was injured and hospitalised.

National Herald’s ground report from Pilkhuwa finds that attempts are again underway to communalise the atmosphere in Western Uttar Pradesh. Four years after Dadri, say locals, this area has once again witnessed a ‘kaali’ Eid.

"Qasim was more than 50 years old, a father of 6 children, weighing 85 kg, tense about the marriage of his young daughter, and a thalassemia and blood pressure patient. That is why he could not run away to escape death. He was surrounded and killed and died thirsting for a drop of water. The police could not save him," said Qasim's uncle, Mehr Ali, 65, sitting holding his head in his hands outside Qasim’s rented house in Pilkhuwa’s Saddiq Nagar mohalla. He says, "He was killed just because he was a Muslim. Where is the cow? Where is the weapon used to slaughter it? Where is the blood? There is no evidence, only rumours, and now six children are orphaned”. More than a dozen other people are sitting outside Qasim's house in silence. No one here is able to fully comprehend yet, what has happened.

Pilkhuwa town in Hapur district is just 50 km away from Delhi on the Delhi-Lucknow highway. Wherever you see a large number of towels being sold on the road side en route from Delhi to Nainital or Lucknow, you will be passing the latest place to be added to India’s map of mob lynchings, this time yet again on a rumour that a cow had been slaughtered.

NH Photo
NH Photo
Qasim Qureshi’s uncle Mehr Al outside Qasim’s rented house in Pilkhuwa’s Saddiq Nagar mohalla

Beside the Delhi-Lucknow national highway just short of Pilkhuwa in the direction of Lucknow, is Bajhera village, where Qasim had gone on June 18 to purchase a buffalo. Qasim was murdered in this village, says Qasim's brother, Mohammad Salim (35). "My brother used to buy goats from this village to sell in the city. That was his way of raising his family. He had moved to Pilkhuwa, the home of his in-laws, 23 years ago from his native village Tadi. A man from Bajhera village had earlier come to meet him and asked him to come to the village to purchase his buffalo. Qasim could not go immediately because of Eid, that is why he had gone a day later. Then police brought back his dead body. Those claiming to be from a brave community surrounded an unarmed man who went looking for work in order to take care of his children. On Monday at 3 pm, the police called us up and said that Qasim had gotten into a quarrel and was taken to Rama Hospital, where they did not find him alive”.

According to Mohammed Shaik (45), another of Qasim’s four brothers, "Take a look at the video, you will see how he was thirsting for water like a fish thirsts when it is out of water. Does this frail, 50-year-old man look like he can slaughter a cow? And where is this cow? This was a conspiracy to cause riots through spreading rumours and committing a premeditated murder. "

Samaydin (62) is a resident of Madapur village in the immediate vicinity of Bajhera. Both are Rajput-dominated villages, but whereas Madapur is home to mostly Muslim Rajputs, Bajhera is dominated by Hindu Rajputs. There is often communal tension between the two. Hatred between the two communities in both villages has reportedly increased considerably in recent times. At the time when Qasim was being beaten on rumour of slaughtering a cow, Samaydin was working on his farm. He then tried to intervene and save Qasim but then the mob began beating him too, till he fell unconscious. Samaydin was admitted to Devi Nandini Hospital in Hapur and is out of danger.

Samaydin’s brother Yameen, the complainant in the case who lodged the report of the incident at Pilkhuwa police station, said "It was a fabricated story that a sick man and an old man were together slaughtering a cow while neither did they have a knife, nor was there a cow present. It is clear that name of cow was used to murder someone in order to incite a communal riot ".

NH Photo
NH Photo
Streets of Bajhera, Uttar Pradesh on June 19, 2018, where a man was lynched the previous day on rumours that he had slaughtered a cow

Fingers pointed at local BJP leader

Pilkhuwa has been seeing increasing deterioration in relationships between the two communities since the last few years. Local resident Mohammed Shaheen told National Herald that the communal tension has become worse after the 2017 assembly elections, ever since BJP’s Ramesh Chandra Tomer was defeated by BSP's Aslam Chaudhary in the Dhaulana assembly seat, in which Bajhera lies. “Both Yogi Adityanath and BJP President Amit Shah had tried to give a communal colour to the election by framing it as 'Maulana versus Dholana’", alleges Shaheen. Since then, relationships between people have further deteriorated, says Shaheen, but he maintains that the problems are not between the common people but between the political workers of different parties.

Qasim's family agrees with Shaheen. Qasim’s eldest son Mahtab (24) wants action to be taken against Kiranpal, a local BJP leader from Bajhera. They allege that a young man captured Kiranpal talking to Qasim on a video just before the death, and after that the crowd turned on the young man making the video. They allege that Kiranpal is very powerful in Bajhera village, is known to be close to many BJP leaders and also has a lot of clout with the local Pilkhuwa police station.

Kiranpal, however, has not been named in the complaint of the lynching, said Hapur SP Sankalp Sharma, filed by Samaydin’s brother Yameen against five unknown persons. Subsequently, the police have arrested one Rakesh and one Yudhishtir. Police are reportedly still investigating the role of Kiranpal in the lynching. According to the SP, there is no evidence that a cow was slaughtered and it was just a rumour.

Samajwadi Party leader Mohammed Gaffar lives in village Dehra, which falls between Madapur and Bajhera. While telling National Herald whatever he knew about the incident, Gaffar said that "The road going from Bajhera to Pilkhuwa town passes through Madapur and Dehra villages. As there are factories in Dehra, hundreds of youth from Bajhera work here, however on Monday June 18 most were on holiday and hardly any people from Bajhera went to Pilkhuwa. The incident took place at 3 pm, whereas since morning hardly anyone from Bajhera had stepped out of the village. Obviously something was going on inside”, alleged Gaffar. Local MLA, BSP’s Aslam Chaudhary said that "this conspiracy will soon be exposed. The people here are peace-loving and Hindus have strongly condemned the cold-hearted incident. "

The locals in Bajhera say that those out on bail for the murder of Mohd Akhlaq in Dadri, also roam around in Pilkhuwa. Qasim’s son wants justice but says the system is such that in some time, the killers of Bajhera will now be seen roaming around in Dadri

Yet another Muslim murdered around Eid-ul-fitr

Qasim Qureshi's daughter Nisha (17) stands sadly at the door of her house, saying Eid of three days ago is spoiled. Crying, Nisha said, "Father did not make new clothes for himself on Eid but he used to make sure we had new clothes. He would wash and re-wear his old clothes for many days. Now he will be missed on every Eid. Eid has been spoiled for us forever.”

It may be recalled that Mohd Akhlaq was beaten to death four Eids ago in nearby Dadri, just 30 km from Pilkhuwa, on the rumour that he had slaughtered a calf and kept the meat in his fridge for Eid. A year later, Junaid Khan was killed near Delhi in Haryana after returning from Eid shopping, setting off the countrywide ‘Not in my name’movement. The list of Muslims killed around Eid continues to grow.

The locals in Bajhera say that those out on bail for the murder of Akhlaq, also roam around in Pilkhuwa. Qasim's son wants justice but says the system is such that in some time, the killers of Bajhera will now be seen roaming around in Dadri.

Four of Qasim’s six children do not even know that their father is dead.

Meanwhile, tension continues to permeate the air in Madapur and Bajhera. The police are present in strength, but some fear that it is now going to be difficult to continue to live here.

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