Poonam Kaushal Uttar Pradesh
“He always dreamt of seeing himself in Indian Army uniform, he wanted to be a Lieutenant. ‘How would I look in uniform,’ he would ask. I would ask him to tone it down, lest an evil eye may spoil it. My brother was influenced by the evil eyes of the mob.”
Babli Chaudhry remembers her younger brother Sumit as a simple young man who always wanted to join the army.
Just 100 Kilometers from National Capital New Delhi, Sumit was killed in an incident of mob violence on Monday in Chingrawati village of Syana area of Bulandshahr district in Western Uttar Pradesh.
20-year-old Sumit was part of the mob which had blocked the road protesting against the alleged cow slaughter. It was in this violence that SHO of the Syaana area, Inspector Subodh Kumar was killed.
This area of Bulandshahr is known for its sweet sugarcane fields. But now it seems that communal poison is spreading. Strange fear and tension can be seen on faces of local people but nobody wants to talk about it.
Silence has engulfed Chingrawati. Heavy police forces are deployed to keep the peace. Almost all of the youth of this village have fled fearing police crackdown. Only a few young kids and senior citizens can be seen around.
A narrow path from Chingrawati leads to Mahav village. The alleged cow slaughter happened here. The village looks deserted and engulfed in eery silence.
When I reached the village at 8 am, I could only see women riding in buggies to work in the fields. This is the time to reap hard earned sugarcane crops. The farmers have for long been troubled by the government’s negligence of the sugarcane crop. This violence has only added to their woes.
For Priti Chaudhary, a resident of Mahav, Monday was like just another day. Wed into a prosperous family of farmers, Priti is a mother of two young boys. The family owns many cattle. She was living a happy life till Monday.
But now, she cries remembering the time when her husband was informed about carcasses that were found in their sugarcane field.
She says, “Like every day, my husband went to the dairy with the milk. The villagers called him to inform that carcasses of cows have been found in our field. He immediately rushed to the spot. After reaching there the first thing he did was a phone call to the police. That was his only mistake.”
“The police arrived shortly and started the necessary investigation. The police, My husband and other villagers agreed to bury the carcasses in the field itself. The police inspector said that burying the carcasses will pacify the situation and avert communal tension. Meanwhile crowd gathered and Bajrang Dal workers reached the spot.”
“The Bajrang Dal leaders said that if we bury the matter here, such incidents will happen again. They insisted to stage a protest at the police post. They forcefully dumped the carcass in the tractor trolley and took it to the Chingrawati Police Post and started protesting.”
The protests at the Chingrawati police station turned violent which killed SHO Subodh Kumar and 20-year-old Sumit.
Priti said that on the night of Monday, the police forcibly entered her house and ransacked it. Priti’s husband Rajkumar Chaudhry is named as one of the accused in the FIR filed in connection with the violence.
In fact, the police had raided her home to arrest him. Rajkumar is on the run and she has not heard from him since Monday.
Priti alleges that she was beaten up by the all-male police team and that they damaged the car and everything else they came across.
After the violence, Priti’s husband has been absconding. The responsibility of reaping the sugarcane crop has now fallen up Priti’s shoulders.
She said, “Till now I had not even seen my fields, I don’t know all this work. Incident of that fateful day has destroyed my whole family and put me in a very difficult situation.”
Priti adds that had the Bajrang Dal workers not arrived at the spot and insisted for the protest, this day would have not come.
The family of Indian Army Solider Jeetendra Malik lives at the other end of Mahav village. Now, only his mother, Ratan Kaur, is present at his home. Incessant crying has taken toll of her health.
Ratan Kaur accuses police of vandalising her house on Monday night. Her sadness over this is quite visible. Everything remains scattered in the house. Washing machine, fans, television and many other items lay broken.
The police say that Jeetendra Malik was part of the mob which caused violence, while Ratan Kaur says that her son was on duty. Ratan Kaur’s husband has been taken into custody by the police while their son remains untraceable. Ratan Kaur said, “Whatever happened that day was wrong. Everything was done by the Bajrang Dal but we are forced to face the repercussions. My home has been destroyed.”
Whether Jeetendra Malik was part of the mob or not will be revealed by the police investigation. It is alleged that he shot SHO Subodh Kumar. But his mother thinks he is innocent and is framed in this case.
When we were returning from the village, Ratan Kaur laid flat on the ground in front of our car and almost lost consciousness. She insists that she should be heard by the Government. She says, “This Violence has killed two sons. I am a mother and I can feel their pain. Don’t leave those who are behind all this, but do not persecute innocents.”
The Spot of alleged Cow slaughter
Rajkumar’s field where the carcasses were found is at least one km away from the village. There are two ways to reach the field, one through Mahav village or the other way which connects to the main road after 3kms.
Blood is still splattered in the field and remains can be seen. When I visited the field, labourers were reaping sugarcane crop.
One of Rajkumar’s relative was driving sugarcane filled trolley. Stopping his vehicle, he said, “My innocent brother’s life is ruined. His only fault was that the tragedy happened at his farm. The politicians played their politics. And we are left to face the grave consequences.”
He was seething with anger. He said, “There was no need for the violence. The police wanted to bury the carcasses then and there and lodge FIR to avoid the tension, but some leaders were adamant on creating a ruckus. They are the main culprits. Because of them, we are suffering.”
Stray cows are the biggest issue in this area. To save crops from these stray cows, the farmers have to invest in the wire fencing. Rajkumar’s fields are also fenced on all sides.
We saw many of these stray cows eating sugarcane crops. Rajkumar’s wife Priti says, “ The farmers abandon the older cows who can longer produce milk or can give birth. These cows destroy our crop but no one says a thing because we consider them sacred. But the government has to do something to save these cows.”
“Even though Yogiji and Modiji have banned the abandoning and slaughter of cattle, but they should also make arrangements for their proper shelter and fodder. Cows are destroying our farms but we don’t say anything. The government should make arrangements else such situation may arise at other places as well and a big riot can happen anywhere, anytime.”
Most of the people in this area are emotionally attached to the cows. They prey them and consider them very sacred. cows are kept for milk in most of the agricultural households. But when these cows stop milking they are abandoned.
Who killed the cows?
Police is investigating whether alleged cow slaughter happened in Rajkumar’s field or someone planted carcasses there. Senior officials of Uttar Pradesh Police have already suggested a big conspiracy behind the violence.
It is possible that the cows were slaughtered for meat. It is also possible that the carcasses were planted. Bulandshahr police say that their first priority is to solve this mystery.
Whoever is behind all this, one thing is clear that this incident has disturbed the peace and had disturbed many lives in the nearby villages.
The women seem most impacted and now faces the challenge of dealing with extraordinary aftermaths of the violence.
Sumit’s mother has nearly lost her voice. She sits in a corner of her house silently. She and her husband are on indefinite strike. They demand monetary aid for their family and Justice for their killed Son.
Politics on Deaths
Sumit’s brother Vineet is pained by politics on his brother’s death. He says the most painful part is that some politicians are trying to reap political benefits at his brother’ death.
“My brother was neither a Gorakshak nor associated with any Hindutva outfit. He was not a member of any political party. He was preparing for NDA in Noida. His only mistake is he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s very difficult for our family to deal with his death.”
He says, “Our family is deeply pained. Some people are trying to cash our pain for their political benefits. This is very wrong. Those who turned youth into violent crowds must be persecuted.”
Sumit’s sister Babli Chaudhary says, “Our family is financially very poor. My two sisters are doing private jobs in Noida so as our brothers can study. They have sacrificed their dreams to fulfil our brother’s dreams. Now that brother is gone. Those who lost family members know the pain. It’s very difficult. The government should help us and give Police job to my other brother.”
She realizes that her brother should not have been in the crowd and says, “My brother should not have part of that crowd. He went out to see off his friend and become part of the crowd. Neither SHO Subodh was wrong nor my brother Sumit. Both become victim of the very violent situation.”
Son of Late Inspector Subodh Kumar, Abhishek Singh is trying to spread the message of peace. While speaking to us over the phone he said, “The saddest part is after such an incident, communal politics is being played. This is the time to act wisely. The public must stay calm and reject inciting messages.”
“A poison is being spread among common masses. Even small kids are being killed in communal violence. This communal violence is driving our country from bad to worst times. Religion is such a sacred thing. This sacred thing should not be used for violence. We all should clean our hearts and live peacefully so as nobody else has to go through this deep pain of losing a father.”
Alleged attacks on Cows
In Syana, Aurangabad and other areas of Bulandshahr, many incidents of alleged cow slaughter have been reported in the last few months. There is a sudden spike in recent weeks.
Two separate incidents of alleged cow-slaughter and attack on cows have been reported in Aurangabad area since Monday. In one incident police arrested 4 alleged cow killers and sent them to jail. In another incident, a cow was injured in an attack by unknown assailants. The crowd gathered and Hindutva activists tried to stage protests. Heave police forces were deployed to control the situation.
These incidents reported after Chingrawati violence suggests that there is something big at play in this part of western Uttar Pradesh and it is a really difficult time for local people and police administration.
The common people need to be vigilant and resilient and administration needs to be more proactive, otherwise even a minor incident can spiral out of control and cause may even cause a big riot.