The recent mob violence in Chingravathi village near Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh lays bare not only the dire law and order situation in India’s most populous state but also the extent to which so-called cow vigilantes have been emboldened in India’s heartland states by the indirect support of the RSS-BJP machinery which run most of these governments. The violence claimed the lives of Subodh Kumar Singh, a police inspector, and a passerby.
Carcasses of cows were strung up in a way that it was visible from far away and was then used to drum up support and frenzy from an organised mob which loaded the carcasses on to a dumper and took the same to the police station. What is also not a mere coincidence is the fact that the lakhs of devotees had gathered in a village in Bulandshahr, about 30 km away from the site of mob violence, in order to attend the final day of Tablighi Ijtema on the same fateful day. Inspector Singh, whose pro-active role in handling the infamous Akhlaq lynching case in Dadri, by quickly collecting meat samples and submitting them for forensic enquiry, is well-known, went to pacify the mob and asked them to lodge a police complaint. Instead, he received a bullet in the eye. The mob was led by a well-known local leader of the Bajrang Dal who is yet to be arrested.
The gau goons may have unknowingly picked a dangerous fight with the cops who have had no beef with the cow vigilantes prior to this incident. However, one hopes that sense dawns on the state government and they bring the perpetrators to book.
Now that the gau goons have hurt an arm of the government, one needs to see how Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath addresses the situation and how the police force behaves, having lost one of their fellow policemen. But should we keep our expectations unexpectedly high? We have seen gau goons accused of lynching people being garlanded by Central ministers of this government.
If the first reactions of the state Chief Minister are anything to go by, the hopes that law will be allowed to run its course seem belied. In his first reaction to the incident, Yogi Adityanath has asked the administration to sternly deal with the cow killers while not even mentioning the inspector who fell prey to the mob violence. This is not unique to UP. The apathy of the BJP state governments in Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh in bringing those accused of lynchings in the name of cow protection to justice has emboldened an entire culture of lynching and mob vigilantism. Today, the police itself became its victim. In this situation and context, one should not expect a 180-degree turn on part of the ways of the state government. However, a bitten police force is a dangerous foe. The gau goons may have unknowingly picked a dangerous fight with the cops who have had no beef with the cow vigilantes prior to this incident. However, one hopes that sense dawns on the state government and they bring the perpetrators to book.