Lucknow: Political football over the Dadri lynching got murkier today with controversial BJP MLA Sangeet Som, accused in the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, attacking the SP government for "shielding cow killers" to appease Muslims.
Disregarding prohibitory orders in force, Som visited Dadri and addressed a public meeting asking Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to stop shedding "crocodile tears" while BJP lashed out at the CM for giving a "communal" colour to the incident.
As charges and counter-charges of polarisation hotted up with an eye on the 2017 UP Assembly polls, the Chief Minister met in Lucknow the family of 50-year-old Ikhlaq, who was lynched in Dadri over beef eating rumours, assuring them of justice.
After meeting victim Ikhlaq's family, Akhilesh announced financial assistance to the family totalling Rs.45 lakh. Akhilesh said his Samajwadi Party will "never do politics" on the issue even as his government. "I could not go to the village (Dadri) and so I felt it would be appropriate if I meet them here(Lucknow)...The family is in a state of shock.
Family members of Akhlaq, who was lynched in Dadri with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister AKhilesh Yadav, at his official residence in Lucknow on Sunday. Pic/ PTI
Nothing can make up for their loss. We can share their grief, but cannot erase the scene they witnessed," he told reporters after meeting Ikhlaq's mother Asgari, brother Mohammed Afzal and daughter Shaista. Stirring the political cauldron, Som said, "Like they (SP) had taken the accused in Muzaffarnagar riots in a plane, they have taken those cow killers in a plane."
The UP lawmaker's remarks came even as BJP leader and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the incident should not be given communal colour or politicised. "It was an unfortunate incident. But it is not proper to give communal colour to it," he told reporters on the sidelines of a function in Delhi.
Iqlakh was dragged out of his home by a 200-strong mob and beaten to death after a public announcement from the local temple that the family had slaughtered a calf and eaten its meat on Monday night in Bishada village. Congress attacked the BJP and the Narendra Modi government over the incident and said all progressive thinking people should stand up against it.
"This is a politco-ideological murder. There are some people who are trying to change the narrative of the country. They want that the minority should be second grade citizens. "The Government wants to dictate as to what people should eat, what people should wear, how people should talk.
So this is an issue on which all progressive, liberal and right thinking need to stand together," Congress leader Manish Tewari said. Meanwhile, police, which has arrested eight persons, detained a Home Guard for questioning after the local temple priest alleged that he forced him to make the announcement.
Police had yesterday arrested two persons -- Vishal and Shivam. One of them was reported to be the son of a local BJP leader. However, BJP leader Harish Thakur denied that the father of the accused was a BJP office bearer and said he may be a BJP supporter.
Hitting out at the BJP, JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav said incidents of communal violence have increased since the party came to power at the Centre. Not a single day goes, Yadav said, when the "so called Hindu organisations" does not make "disgusting comments" that might lead to communal riots anytime.
"Since the present government came to power, the incidents of communal riots are increasing due to their ideology which is not in consonance with the Constitution that provides a secular society. The lynching of Mohammad Ikhlaq in Dadri over rumour that he ate beef was horrible and deplorable," he said in a statement.
Som questioned why the state government had allowed AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi to visit the village and spread "communal frenzy". "A person like Owaisi was allowed to come here from Hyderabad. Is the Samajwadi Party government colluding with him?... This government is trying to appease a particular community.
They want to do politics of appeasement which we will not allow," the MLA said. Questioning the arrests in the lynching case, he said, "We don't want that those guilty of murder should not be tried but the government should stop framing the innocent.
"Are terrorists living here? Police should make arrests only after completing the investigation," he said. However, Akhilesh dismissed criticism of the government. "Those doing politics can level any allegation... but I want to assure that Samajwadis never do politics on such things.
Since SP government came to power there are some forces trying to create one or the other atmosphere," he said. Assuring all help for the victim's son Danish, 22, who was injured in the attack, he said, "Best possible treatment will be ensured wherever the family wishes.
We will also provide house, complete security and if required job to one member of the family." Tension prevailed in Bishada village in Dadri which has been thronged by leaders of various parties following the lynching incident.
District Magistrate N P Singh has written to the SSP to provide women police force in the village as local women were causing law and order problems. The DM has directed that nobody should be allowed to meet the victim's family members unless they give permission.
"If they do not want to meet any visitor, visitors should not be allowed to go to the their house," he said. The District Magistrate also directed surveillance of all visitors and steps to ensure that anti-social elements do not gain entry and disturb the peace.