New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh (UP) government has submitted a fresh status report in the Supreme Court (SC) on the investigation in the Hapur lynching case in which a 38-year old cattle trader, Qasim, was killed and 65-year old Shamsuddin brutally assaulted, allegedly over cow slaughter charges on June 18, 2018.
The three judge bench, headed by the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, and comprising of Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, directed the state, represented by solicitor general Tushar Mehta, to provide a copy of the status report to the petitioners, represented by advocate Vrinda Grover. The petitioners have to file a response within a week. The next hearing is scheduled on May 9.
The SC had agreed to hear the matter in August, 2018, after the survivor, Shamsuddin, had approached the highest judicial body requesting for its intervention and setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to ensure “an impartial, competent and fair investigation” into “the barbaric incident of mob lynching”. Consequently, the SC, on September 5, had directed the Inspector General of Police (IGP) of Meerut range to supervise the investigation and “facilitate the recording” of victim’s statement before a judicial magistrate.
Apart from a SIT inquiry, the petitioner has requested the SC to direct the state government to compensate the victim for his medical treatment and the plea has also sought a cancellation of the bail granted to the accused, including alleged key offender Yudhishthir Singh Sisodia.
In the past five years, the spate of violence against the minorities and oppressed sections of the society have constantly been on a rise. Lynching, in the name of cow vigilantism, has been the most common form of violence and most victims or survivors are Muslims or Dalits. Not only that, there have also been attempts to register false cases, such as in the Hapur case where, reportedly, police pressurised the survivor to register a case of road accident. The accused have easily received bail and continue to roam free while the victims and their families constantly live with fear. They have lost their source of livelihood with no or meagre compensation from the government. Instead, the government and the police officials do not even acknowledge the growing menace of cow vigilantes.
While India is globally known for her diversity, here we are failing to protect the lives of the vulnerable sections. The upper-caste and upper-class majority are oppressing the voiceless and the vulnerable in the name of religion and customs. Notably, even the ruling government, the right-wing Hindutva party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has refrained from commenting or accepting the presence of such a heinous crime, let alone taking action against the perpetrators.
It is widely known that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – a right-wing Hindu nationalist organisation – is the parent organisation of the ruling BJP. Strikingly, the past five years have seen lynching and murders of minorities mostly in the BJP-ruled states. The Hapur case happened when Yogi Adityanath, who is infamous for his communal and anti-Muslim remarks, was the chief minister. Also, reports show that UP has the highest number of cow-related violence, the state which has always been a hotbed for communal violence. The National Crime Records Bureau doesn’t maintain any such data! However, data maintained by IndiaSpend reveals that more than 50% of the victims were Muslims while one in ten victims was a Dalit. Further, such incidents have increased by almost five times during the BJP-rule compared to the period when Congress was in power.
While these brutal acts keep on rising, the BJP continues to observe silence. Instead, it is spending more money on ‘gau raksha’ (cow protection) while it fails to compensate the victims. For example, the UP government has started to levy a ‘gau raksha’ cess to protect the stray cows.
Such cruel acts with no action from the government, are an indication that the Sangh Parivar’s ideology of a ‘Hindu rashtra’, where there is no place for the Muslims or the minorities, is gradually laying its foundation. The 2019 general elections are thus crucial as they will decide the fate of millions of oppressed people and the trajectory of our ‘secular nation.’
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