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Islam and Politics ( 7 Dec 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Bulandshahr Reminds us that Mob Violence Scars Everyone

By Arshad Alam, New Age Islam

08 December 2018

After Yogi Adityanath talked of some kind of a conspiracy behind the recent mob violence in Bulandshahr, his top cop also said that the police are pretty much probing the conspiracy angle. The violence that we are referring to occurred in the city couple of days back when a frenzied mob, led by local Bajrang Dal leader, attacked a police station and partly burnt it down. In the ensuing violence, the SHO and another youth named Sumit (who was part of the mob) were killed. Videos have emerged which show the SHO slumped in his official vehicle and it appears that he was shot from close quarters. The police have arrested some persons, but the main accused, the Bajrang Dal Leader is on the run. Also, police have started questioning Muslims who have been named in the complaint by the same Bajrang Dal leader.

Even if we grant that all this is a conspiracy, how does this absolve the Yogi government and his administration from the responsibility of maintaining law and order in the state? It appears that the minute you say conspiracy, you will automatically not be asked questions. The problem is that questions will still be asked: not just because Yogi is the CM, but also because the violence has been committed by one of the many sister organizations of the ruling party. In his attempt to announce a big conspiracy, he even failed to congratulate his own police for their valour and sacrifice for it was they who brought the situation under control. This certainly looks like a conspiracy but then not of the kind the CM of Uttar Pradesh is talking about.  

Questions must be raised at the timing of finding the cow carcass. We know that the city was hosting the annual Ijtema of the Tablighi Jamaat, in which around 10-12 lakh Muslims participated. The timing of finding the carcass is therefore too much of a coincidence. Just a day ago, Bulandshahr was a shining example of pluralism when the locals allowed Muslims to pray in the courtyard of a Shiva temple. Was this incident calculated to break any emerging brotherhood between Hindus and Muslims?

Also, there are some reports which suggest that the SHO was on the radar of Hindu outfits for some years now. He is the same officer who was probing the Akhlaq lynching during the Akhilesh Yadav government. Questions must be asked under what circumstances he was taken off the case. Is it that he was not giving in to the demands of certain sections to take the probe in a particular direction. It has also come to light that the local unit of the ruling party had been demanding his transfer for some months now. A letter has reportedly surfaced which the local ruling party MLAs wrote to the Member of Parliament from the area Bhola Singh. In this letter, local leaders accused him of creating obstacles in Hindu religious functions. It is entirely possible that local political resentment was building up against the SHO Subodh Kumar and that he might have been killed because of this reason. But then, rather than probing all possible angles in this case, the CM has been quick to paint the murder as an ‘unfortunate incident’.   

Moreover, we still do not know how the carcass ended up in an open field, adjacent to the highway which was to be used by Tablighis for returning home. Then of course is the question that the incident comes very close to the right wing annual celebration of demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya as Shaurya Divas (Day of Bravery). Probably the CM and UP DGP are right in probing a conspiracy angle. But then it seems that they are looking at the issue with a pre-determined mind-set. CM Yogi said in no uncertain terms that strict action should be taken against those who have allegedly indulged in the slaughter of cows. But then he decided to keep quite on the issue of mob violence which killed his own policeman. Is this silence because the perpetrators were members of a right wing Hindu organization?

There is nothing new about this: he has been similarly silent on a spate of mob lynching which have targeted Muslims. It is now more or less clear that not only will the issue of alleged cow slaughter take precedence the lynching of a police officer, but also that the parameters of the conspiracy seem to have already been laid out. It should not surprise anyone if the police eventually find out that the alleged conspirators in this case turn out to be Muslims or some opposition political outfit.   

What else can be expected of the present CM? After all, before he became the CM, he has been the harbinger of anti-Muslim tirade. His Hindu Yuva Vahini terrorised Muslim youths who were often falsely accused of love jihad. With impunity, they could barge into any private space and beat up young couples, especially when the boy happened to a Muslim. The whole episode used to be filmed and circulated on the social media so as to humiliate Muslims and also as a masculine marker of Hindu victory. His organization was disbanded after he became the chief minister (mostly under the pressure of RSS) but it is entirely possible that these youth are now working in other similar organizations with the sole purpose of whipping up anti-Muslim hate. Whether it is Hindu vigilantism or cow protection, both are essentially designed to otherise and demonise Muslims.

Cow has been revered by certain section of both Hindus and Muslims for centuries. Even today, we will find many Gaushalas which are run by Muslims. However, It is equally true that sections of Hindus and Muslims did not consider the cow as sacred. Consumption (and non-consumption) of beef has historically been more of a class and caste issue rather than a religious issue in this country. Historians like Dharam Pal have argued that consumption of beef was first popularised by the British in India as they needed it for their troops. But then, a certain kind of politics emerged which made the cow synonymous with an emerging Hindu nation.

The Muslim became the perpetual and potential other, always suspected of being beef eaters and therefore potential outsiders. Nothing much has changed between then and now: cow has been made as the symbol of creating difference between Hindus and Muslims. Cow has become the weapon to target Muslims. No one asks any question from those involved in lynching; rather the onus is on the Muslim to prove that they do not eat beef. And all this in a context where beef is banned in majority of Indian states.

Let us not fool ourselves with the arrests that have so far been made in the case. Ministers of the Yogi government have already started defending the Bajrang Dal. Had Muslims been killed in this incident, the whole narrative of the government would be different. Those lauding the government for controlling the situation forget that among those questioned are minor Muslim boys aged 11 and 12. Those named in the FIR either do not exist or have moved to different cities years ago.

How is that even before the carcass has not been sent for any forensic analysis, there is already a consensus that the meat was that of a cow and not some other animal? A thorough forensic analysis will also determine the timing of the alleged slaughter. If the alleged slaughter took place days ago, then it is a clear cut case that the carcass was brought from someplace else and dumped in the field with the express intention of creating Hindu Muslim riot.

A section of the Hindu mind rationalised the killing of Akhlaq by turning around and asking the question: but why did he have to do that (consume beef)? This seems to be becoming the common-sense of average Hindu: guilt must be apportioned to Muslims even in the absence of any fact on the ground. This has been the singular contribution of Yogi government during his tenure. But he should not forget that once mob fury is ignited it cannot be controlled all the time. There will come a time when the mob will devour everyone; including the ones who were leading it. Bulandshahr should constantly remind him of this fact.

Arshad Alam is a columnist with


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