In a strikingly similar incident to that of the lynching of Mohammad Akhlaque in Dadri, a mob in Hapur lynched a 45 years old Muslim man, Qasim, and brutally assaulted 65 years old Sameyddin, over rumours of cow slaughter on Monday.
Local villagers told NewsClick that on Monday afternoon some people started talking about cow smugglers stealing cows from the farms of Bajhaida Khurd in the Pilakhua area of Hapur. As the rumour spread further, people started gathering in the local farms to look for the smugglers since they heard that some people spotted two people trying to smuggle local cows for the purpose of cow slaughter.
When a substantial number of people had gathered, they all ran towards the farms of the village Madapur and found Qasim and Sameyddin working in the farm. The crowd, without thinking, beat both men with sticks. A video of an injured Sameyddin is making rounds on social media groups.
In a conversation with NewsClick, Qasim’s son, Mahtab said, “I remember that my father got a call at 11 in the morning on Monday. The caller told him that some cattle needs to be sold. He also asked him to come to the neighbour village, Bajhaida Khurd, so he left. We got another call at about 2 in the afternoon only to find out that he has died. This looks like a conspiracy. It needs to be investigated.”
Sameyddin’s family who are also residents of Madapur told NewsClick that he had gone to get grass for his cattle. He saw someone being beaten after which he got scared and ran. He was cornered and beaten brutally by the mob.
Many residents of both the villages alleged that an announcement was made from the devi sthan, a local temple of Bajhaida Khurd about how cow smugglers are stealing and slaughtering cows. These allegations are yet to be confirmed but if they do turn out to be true, it is impossible to ignore that this might be a conspiracy with patterns similar to that of Akhlaque’s lynching in Dadri. This can be an attempt to keep the communal potboiler burning ahead of the 2019 General Elections. It looks like the by-poll loss is dictating the agenda of the Hindutva brigade in a predictable manner.
As news of the lynching spread, the local officials immediately reached the spot. Circle officer Pawan Kumar and police station in-charge Ashwini Kumar took both injured men to a local private hospital where Qasim was declared dead by the doctors.
Given the sensitivity of the matter, senior officials including the Superintendent of Police Hapur Sankalp Sharma, Assistant Superintendent of Police Rammohan Singh, and the Sub-Divisioal Magistrate Hanuman Prasad reached the police station.
Qasim's death resulted in a confrontation between the two villages, Bajhaida Khurd and Madapur, leading to communal tension in the area.
Police force and PAC personnel were immediately deployed in the area. Some residents of Bajhaida Khurd alleged that they protested because Qasim was trying to smuggle local cows. They also said that Qasim started attacking the villagers first and only in response to that, the villagers started beating him brutally with sticks.
SP Hapur Sankalp Sharma however rejected the allegation that rumour of cow slaughter was the basis of the attack and mob lynching. “Preliminary reports suggest beating of two people, and the fight was triggered after a motorbike hit some people. One person died and another one was assaulted,” Sharma said. “This has nothing to do with cow slaughter rumours. Police is investigating the matter and we will take strict action against the culprits,” he further added.
The police rejected the local villagers' allegation of cow slaughter rumours as being the basis for the lynching and assault, and detained five people. Police force has been deployed in the area.
It seems that the police and the administration sought to ensure that the incident is not reported or registered on record as a case of lynching based on cow slaughter rumours.
Interestingly the victim’s family completely rejected police theory. In the initial reports Police told the media that Qasmi’s family did not mention anything about cow slaughtering in their police complaint. The police also told the media that Mahtab had mentioned about a fight that arose after a motorbike hit some people.
Mahtab told NewsClick that his family is yet to register a complaint. “ThisIt is not true that we mentioned anything about a motorbike clash in our complaint. We said that it needs to be probed. We cannot speculate. But as I said, it appears that someone was trying to trick my father into something he was not a part of.” He further said, “The police must investigate reports of announcement from a religious structure about cow slaughter.”