As we near the dates of the General Election of 2019, it seems like the lynching and other hate crimes against the Muslims are becoming more rampant day by day, taking it almost to a point of normalcy, failing to create even the tiniest of ripple in the day to day affairs of the State government. The collusion of the Uttar Pradesh government and agencies in not preventing the hate crimes has become more than obvious lately.
A day after the picture of the cops dragging the body of Qasim, the man who was lynched in Pilakhua area of Hapur, went viral, Mohammad Salim Quraishi, a meat trader in Bareilly, died after he was assaulted by State police officials in Bareilly. Salim had to be hospitalised in a Delhi hospital on Thursday, four days after he was allegedly assaulted by a group of police officials on June 14. He used to run a meat shop in Baradari area of the Old Bareilly.
According to Farzana, Salim's wife, police officials of Bareilly assaulted her husband in order to extort money from him in the name of cow slaughter. According to her complaint, a group of police officials from Kankartola police station in Bareilly visited her husband on June 14 saying that they wanted to question him about some incidents of cow slaughter. Her husband had to be admitted to a multi-speciality hospital because he collapsed after the cops assaulted him.
“Three police officials from Kankartola police station came saying they wanted to question him about some false allegation of cow slaughter. The police officials, Harish Chandra, Shreepal and Ali Zaidi came and started questioning. During the questioning, they started assaulting him after which he collapsed. We immediately took him to a local hospital. But his conditions kept on deteriorating. He was shifted to a multi-speciality hospital in Delhi where he died on Thursday,” Farzana told NewsClick.
Farzana alleged that her husband was a victim of the “police terror”. She said that due to the crackdown the State government has started against cow slaughter, many members of the State police have started misusing it to extort money from the poor cattle and meat traders.
“The reality today is that many people in positions of power, especially police officials, extort money from cattle and meat traders. Just because the state government was strict about preventing cow slaughter the police officials would misuse it to blackmail and extort money from meat traders. It has become quite easy to harass poor meat traders. Even if one has nothing to do with cow slaughter, the police will raid their houses on the name of cow slaughter and threaten to book the meat traders on stringent charges,” said Farzana.
Though the police officials, who had allegedly assaulted her husband, were suspended, it has not placated her.
She raised the issue of Qasim's lynching and said that innocent people were being killed due to the State's apathy towards the members of the minority community.
“Will their suspension bring back my husband. Why were we harassed in the first place and why hundreds of poor people are being harassed and many of them are being killed in the name of the cow? My heart goes out to the poor family of Qasim which has been robbed off their guardian. Who will take care of them now? How is my husband's death any different from the lynching of Qasim in Hapur?” she asked.
Farzana said there existed a mafia which worked to exploit the State government's crackdown against cow slaughter to generate bribes. She alleged that members of State police are very much part of that mafia which extorts money in the name of the cow.
She wrote to the director-general of police Uttar Pradesh OP Singh and alleged that her husband's death was part of some conspiracy which must be investigated.
Senior police officials of Bareilly on their part said that the police were not involved in extorting money over cow slaughter. Kalanidhi Naithani, the Senior Superintendent of Police Bareilly told NewsClick that severe action will be taken against the cops who were responsible for the alleged assault on Salim. “We are taking this case very seriously. So immediately after receiving the complaint, we have suspended the accused police officials for threatening the meat trader. A departmental enquiry has been initiated against them. The Circle officer Niti Dwivedi has been asked to submit the report of the enquiry,” the Bareilly SSP said.
Salim's death has led to tension and a sense of anger among the local Muslims as it comes hours after the lynching of Qasim in Hapur. The picture of the completely undignified manner in which Qasim's injured body was dragged by the people, probably after his lynching, has sent shock waves through the members of the minority community. The series of lynching which started with that of Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri has not stopped. Despite its claims of law and order the victims of lynchings are yet to get justice and a sense of closure. The BJP government talks about "sabka saath, sabka vikas", but it seems like its policies have led to further the alienation of Muslims.