On Monday, December 3, Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh burst aflame with mob violence over alleged cow slaughter that claimed the life of Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh (SHO), and a youth identified as Sumit. The incident coincided with the last day of the Ijtema, an integral part of the Tablighi Jamaat, for which several hundred thousand Muslims had gathered in the area.
On Monday, it was reported that cow carcasses were found in Mahaw village, around 40-50 kilometres away from the Ijtema gathering. A villager told News18, “I live right opposite the field. There was no dead meat during the previous day. It was only on Monday did we see these things. Also, I didn’t see anybody cutting the meat”. Tehsildar Rajkumar Bhaskar told News18 that when word of the carcasses spread, Hindu Yuva Vahini, Shiv Sena, and Bajrang Dal members reached the area and began agitating, with the crowd loading the carcasses on a tractor and attempting to go towards the Bulandshahr-Garhmukteshwar State Highway to protest. News18 noted that the timing and location “fuels the suspicion that it was a planned attempt to stoke tension as nearly 10 lakh Muslim devotees had gathered in Bulandshahr to pray on Monday as it was the last day of Ijtema,” adding that they were also supposed to return via the same highway.
According to NDTV, Singh was attempting to control the mob that had gathered when he was sustained a head injury due to a stone. “As his driver bundled him into his SUV and tried to take him to hospital, the mob followed the car, cornered it in a field and shot the police officer,” NDTV reported. The autopsy report indicated that Singh died of a bullet wound under his left eyebrow. A police officer spoke to the Daily Pioneer on the condition of anonymity, saying, “It appears to be a cold-blooded murder as rioters had come fully armed with arms, iron rods, spears and wooden sticks and they specifically targeted Inspector Subodh“.
In 2015, Singh had been involved with the investigation of the Dadri lynching case, in which Mohammed Akhlaq was killed on the suspicion of storing beef. However, he was transferred to Varanasi before the investigation was completed.
Several arrests have been made, and the Uttar Pradesh Police has registered an FIR against 27 named people and 60 unnamed people over the violence, FirstPost reported. Another FIR was also registered in the case of the alleged cow slaughter.
Yogesh Raj, Bulandshahr’s district head of the Bajrang Dal is the prime accused in the violence. Raj released a video proclaiming that he was innocent when he was hiding from the police. In it, he alleged that the police “were trying to portray him in bad light,” News18 reported, outlining that Raj, in the video said, “Protests were being held in the street outside Siyana police station. My Bajrang Dal colleagues and I were sitting inside”. He added, “I was in my house on Monday morning and received a call that some villagers had found cow meat in sugarcane fields. After this, I went there and rushed straight to the police station”. He questioned, “If the police has registered a case against cow slaughter, why will Bajrang Dal protest”.
News18 pointed out that Raj’s claims in the video did not align with the initial statement he gave to the police, noting that videos refuting Raj’s claim that he was inside the police station during the protests have emerged. “He is seen and heard saying in one of the videos that he would keep blocking the road unless the police take action against those involved in the ‘cow slaughter’. In a few more videos that surfaced after the clash, he is also seen talking to police officials while the protest was on,” News18 reported. CJP found screenshots from what seemed to be Yogesh Raj’s Twitter profile that were uploaded by Facebook user Khalid Umar. In one, dated August 19, ahead of Bakri Eid, the tweet said, “गोकशी हुई तो त्यौहार बिगड़ जाएगा, ध्यान रहे” (If cows are killed, the festival will be spoiled, be careful). Raj was arrested on Wednesday, December 6.
Also named in the FIR is Shikhar Agarwal, who is linked to the BJP Yuva Morcha, according to sources cited by FirstPost. CJP found what seems to be Agarwal’s Facebook profile, which has a banner of the BJP Yuva Morcha. The profile contains a Facebook post from Friday, November 30, that calls on workers to gather at Indira Gandhi College in Siyana, Bulandshahr at 6.15 in the morning. In it, Agarwal signs off as Yuva Morcha adhyaksh (president) in the post. On Wednesday, December 6, Saamved Media released a video on Facebook featuring a man claiming to be Agarwal, who said that the media and police had distorted the incident. Agarwal alleged that Inspector Singh was corrupt, adding that he conspired with Muslims to “attack our mothers” (attack cows).
CJP has also found, on Facebook user Narendra Pratap’s profile, what seems to be a photograph of a letter addressed to the local BJP MP Bhola Singh. The letter, dated September 9, 2018, alleges that Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh was harassing citizens, and also that he was creating hurdles for the organisation of Hindus’ religious activities. Another photograph included in the same Facebook post is a screenshot of a WhatsApp conversation with the SSP of Bulandshahr, to whom a photograph of the letter seems to have been sent.
These social media posts may not confirm a conspiracy, but they seem to at least indicate that there was sentiment brewing against Inspector Singh.
Media reports have raised the possibility of the entire incident being a conspiracy, a sentiment that was echoed by Uttar Pradesh Minister OP Rajbhar. ANI quoted Rajbhar, who said, “This is a pre-planned conspiracy by VHP, Bajrang Dal and RSS, now police is even naming some BJP members. Why protest happened on the same day as Muslim Ijtema event? It was an attempt to disturb the peace”.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to the Uttar Pradesh government and the state DGP over the killings of Inspector Singh and the youth named Sumit, The Indian Express reported. A senior NHRC official told PTI, “The NHRC has taken suo motu cognisance of media reports and issued notices to the Uttar Pradesh chief secretary and the director general of police, seeking a detailed report, including action taken against the miscreants in connection with the incident”. The NHRC noted that the incident was “indicative of yet another incident of violent protest and rampaging by an unruly mob, exposing lawlessness and failure of the administration to tackle sensitive issues and situations”.