Police arrested four people on Tuesday and were hunting for a Bajrang Dal activist in connection with mob violence here that left an inspector and a passerby dead, as angry families demanded action amid criticism of the UP chief minister and suggestions of conspiracies.
Tears rolled down the eyes of family, friends and colleagues of slain Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh when the body was consigned to flames in a state funeral in the evening.
After initial protests, the family of the other victim, 20-year-old Sumit Kumar, agreed to conduct his last rites.
Sumit Kumar was also named as one of the accused in the FIR registered early Tuesday morning. The local residents wanted his name struck off from there.
A mob of some 400 people, including right-wing activists, fought pitched battles with police on Monday in Siana area of Bulandshahr district, apparently after right-wing activists were angered by the discovery of cow carcasses strewn in a nearby jungle.
They set fire to dozens of vehicles, hurled stones and also fired at police who retaliated with gunfire.
In the violence, Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh, the station house officer of Siana, and Sumit Kumar were killed.
A video emerged Tuesday showing a young man with his hand over a bleeding wound near the abdomen, being helped by other people as they all run. Someone is heard saying the man has been shot.
It was not clear if the man is Sumit Kumar.
The National Human Rights Commission issued notices to the state government and the director general of police over the incident, officials said.
Police said Tuesday four persons were arrested, but the main suspect, Bajrang Dal district convenor Yogesh Raj, was on the run.
They said 27 people have been named in the FIR while cases have been lodged against 50-60 unidentified people.
Of the 27, at least four are workers and functionaries of right-wing organisations such as Bajrang Dal, the officials said.
There was heavy deployment of security forces in the area and tension spiralled as angry families demanded justice for their kin.
There was confusion about the number of those arrested with police officials first saying four, then three and finally four again.
Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Anand Kumar told reporters that six police teams were working on the case and trying to identify the accused by monitoring video footage.
“Tension has eased in strife-torn Bulandshahr and efforts are on to ensure there is no trouble in future,” he said in Lucknow.
Though both Singh and Sumit died of gunshot injuries, the inspector, who was posted at the Siana Police Station, also received injuries from hard and blunt objects, Kumar said.
As police continued their investigations, emotions ran high with the families preparing for the last rites.
The dead policeman’s son Abhishek said his father wanted him to be a good citizen who doesn’t incite violence in the name of religion.
“My father has lost his life in this Hindu-Muslim dispute. Whose father is next?” he asked tearfully.
Abhishek said he last spoke to his father when he phoned him to inquire whether he had studied and eaten.
Demanding “martyr” status for the slain inspector, who was one of those who initially probed the 2015 lynching of Mohammed Akhlaq, his sister alleged his killing was a conspiracy of the police.
“My brother was killed in a police conspiracy as he was probing a cow slaughter case… He should be given martyr status and a memorial should be constructed in his name in our native place,” Sunita Singh told reporters.
“The cow is our mother, I accept it. My brother has given his life for her. The CM used to chant ‘gau… Gau… Gau’… Why can’t he come for ‘gau raksha’,” an emotional Sunita Singh asked, hitting out at Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
In Chingrawathi village, Sumit’s family initially refused to conduct his last rites until the government assured Rs 50 lakh compensation, pension to his parents and a police job to his kin.
They agreed to cremate him after the district administration announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh.
Bulandshahr MP Bhola Singh and local MLA Devendra Lodhi, both from the BJP, visited Sumit’s family in Chingrawathi.
The BJP legislator said locals from the two villages of Mahaw and Chingrawathi had found the carcass of a cow and reported the matter to the police on Monday morning.
“Police should have registered the case, filed an FIR and taken action accordingly,” Lodhi told PTI.
Congress leader Manish Tewari described the incident as “very sad and condemnable”, and claimed attempts were being made to instigate communal violence ahead of the polls.
While the Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati blamed the “irresponsible and wrong” policies of the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh for the mob violence, the CPI(M) said Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s “communally provocative speeches” were responsible.
AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi alleged that those fuelling violence in the name of the cow had been receiving full protection from the BJP and the RSS.
According to Additional Director General (Meerut zone) Prashant Kumar, the protesters from Mahaw village and nearby areas pelted stones on police and indulged in arson, set ablaze vehicles and the Chingarwathi police post, after some body parts of cows were found in a jungle near the village, prompting the police to open fire.PTI