The Signals From Dadri 2
NEW DELHI: The body of Robin aka Ravi Sisodia has been cremated. He had been in jail, accused of being part of the mob that lynched hapless villager Mohammad Akhlaq on suscipion of eating beef. Sisodia reportedly died of dengue while in jail.
Akhlaq had been pulled out of his home by the mob, beaten to death while his son sustained head injuries and had to undergo two surgeries to survive. Akhaq’s second son is in the Indian Air Force and escaped the mob as he was not at home. His family is living in fear of their lives.
Its a year since Akhlaq was killed by the mob on September 28, 2015. The lynching on the pretext of beef sent out shock waves not just across the country, but the world. It made the headlines and invited condemnation from all democratic sections of society. 18 persons were arrested for the crime, Sisodia amongst them.
Look at the signals that Dadri 2 has sent out a year later, with support from senior leaders of the Bharatiya Janata party.
One,the family and the supporters in the village said that they would not bury the body without compensation, and demanded the arrest of Akhlaq’s brother. Sisodia’s body was placed in a glass top coffin and draped with the national flag while the family members and villagers sat around it for three days. The message from this was that the accused was not a martyr and the heinous charge that had landed him in jail was inconsequential. And by draping the body with the national flag, an honour reserved for soldiers killed in conflict, the equation was made and established.
Two, in the demands raised by the family members with political support of course, was Rs one crore compensation, and arrest of Akhlaqs brother. A CBI probe and the release of all the 17 accused were the other demands. This made it very clear that in the hitherto unvoiced narrative, Akhlaq’s murder was justified as he had, according to his assailants, eaten beef. And that the compensation paid to him by the Uttar Pradesh government should be doubled, or equalled for the person accused of killing him. This, in effect, negated the crime in the polarised public perception with the signal being sent out to all across the country that those who lynch people for the ‘cause’ can get away with the crime as national heroes, draped with the national flag.
Three, a top Minister of the government was present at the spot to offer solace to the family but more so to broker the deal. Union Minister for Cukture Mahesh Sharma told sections of the media later that he had been present to ensure there was no trouble as the situation was “very stressful.”He did not comment on the national flag draped over the accused man’s body. He said that Akhlaq’s murder was “an accident”. Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other right wing groups mobilised the villagers, and addressed them, raising and supporting the demand for the arrest of Akhaqs brother and family. The signal out again was that the lynching was not enough, and families like Akhlaq’s would continue to pay a price regardless of the law.
It might be recalled that the first forensic report of the meat sent for examination had said it was “of goat’s progeny”. A second, unverified forensic report that appeared eight months later in June this year, claimed it was beef. And from that day onwards this is being used by the right wing groups to create tensions, and keep the issue alive by literally chasing Akhlaqs traumatised family.
Four, the decision to keep the communal cauldron boiling over beef is to of course polarise the voters in Uttar Pradesh. But in the process, it makes it clear that those who take the law into their own hands to propagate the laid out right wing agenda can be assured of protection. This was further underlined by Muzaffarnagar riot accused BJP MLA Sangeet Som who has visited the village at Dadri several times, and has played a proactive role in the current crisis.Vigilante groups of gau rakshaks, regardless of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments that most of them were anti socials, can thus be assured of protection as and when they decide to take law into their own hands.
Five, the public display of support is also intended to strike terror across UP, and indeed the country with the marginalised minorities, and Dalits who have been at the receiving end of the gau rakshaks being told clearly that the law really does not apply for those who have been attacking them on this issue. And that even after the lynching those responsible are seen as heroes and not criminals, with a BJP MInister and legislator present to give legtimacy to those who have gone outside the law to attack and kill. Along with the national flag over the body of a man charged with a heinous crime.