To begin conveying your message with name-calling is a terrible idea to start with! Chances are that one may feel disgusted enough to judge you for this bigotry and would not even bother to read whatever message you wished to convey. Nevertheless, I did try hard to separate the message from bile in order to prepare a rejoinder to your write-up ‘Why killing of Bajrang Dal activist cannot be compared to Dadri lynching’.
Let’s talk about Dadri first. A middle-aged man, namely Akhlaq, was lynched to death by an angry mob on September 28, 2015 as he allegedly procured and consumed beef which is prohibited for consumption in many Indian states, including Uttar Pradesh. Unlike you, Rajdeep, I do not make qualified statements of sympathy or outrage. I state it unequivocally that poor Akhlaq didn’t deserve death over rumours of him having procured and consumed beef even if it’s prohibited by the law to do so in many Indian states, including Uttar Pradesh.
Now let us take a close look at the sequence of events which led to lynching of Akhlaq by a bloodthirsty mob over rumours of him having procured and consumed beef- A calf went missing, according to the residents of Bisara village, around September 16, 2015. On September 28, 2015 noon, rumours of remains of the stolen calf being found near a field close to Akhlaq’s house spread. Rumours alleged that Akhlaq was carrying beef in a polythene bag; when a dog started chasing him, he threw that polythene bag in an open field near his house wherefrom residents found remains of the stolen calf. It is alleged that a home guard constable forced the local temple priest to announce that Akhlaq’s family procured and consumed beef. This happened at around 9:30 pm. An angry mob then reaches Akhlaq’s house at around 10:30 pm, beats him and his son Danish, and ransacks the house. Akhlaq succumbs to death. Police reaches Aklhaq’s house at around 10:45 pm.
Talking about the context, there’s a context here as well. Akhlaq visited Pakistan a year back and stayed there for almost two and a half months. It is alleged by the villagers that Akhlaq’s behaviour changed post his Pakistan visit. He bought a new car and also got involved in addressing meetings at the local mosque- something which the residents of Bisara found suspicious. Nevertheless, Rajdeep, I still do not justify Akhlaq’s lynching by a mob the way you justified Prashanth Poojaray’s brutal murder.
It is but natural to question the intent and conduct of the Uttar Pradesh Police during the entire episode. A calf goes missing, but unlike the case of Azam Khan’s buffaloes, no efforts were made to find the missing calf. The situation, on September 28, 2015 was tensed since the noon but police did nothing to prevent any untoward incident. Whose failure is this? Who is to blame here, Rajdeep? Whose behaviour was callous enough to let something which was preventable happen?
As we all know, Law & Order is a state subject and if anyone was to be lynched by the media, it had to be the Government of Uttar Pradesh, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and the chief of Samajwadi Party which is ruling the state. Alas! Let alone lynching, media didn’t even bother to question the incompetence of CM Akhilesh Yadav in enforcing the rule of law in Uttar Pradesh. BJP and its online supporters were castigated as the murderers of Akhlaq by Rajdeep and his ilk. Also, I fail to understand on what pretext did the Government of Uttar Pradesh dole out 4.5 M INR and some other perks to Akhlaq’s family? Was it the ‘blood money’ that CM Akhilesh Yadav paid to the family of Akhlaq, from the public exchequer, to get away with his incompetence to govern the state of Uttar Pradesh?
According to the National Crime Bureau, 33981 cases of murder were registered in India during 2014, of which 3920 cases were registered in Uttar Pradesh alone. The reason why I’m quoting this figure is that I fail to understand why ‘they’ (media) have picked up a murder in Dadri in particular, and relentlessly outraging over it! Akhlaq didn’t deserve death, so didn’t those 33980 others!
Rajdeep may argue that Akhlaq’s death deserves severe outrage because it was an (alleged) hate crime. Let us, for a moment, concede this argument. In that case, what explains the lack of outrage rather utter unwillingness to even report another such hate crime which recently happened in Maharashtra? A police constable was stabbed to death to ‘avenge’ the beef-ban, allegedly enforced by the ruling NDA government of Maharashtra by Muslim youths on the active encouragement of a local Maulana? How is this different from Akhlaq’s lynching by a mob? Or is there a context here as well, Rajdeep?
What further amazes me is that while Rajdeep is still outraged over whatever happened in Dadri, he doesn’t even bother to mention a similar incident wherein a mob killed an alleged cow-smuggler in Nahan, Himachal Pradesh. Perhaps, Rajdeep did not want to disturb an already troubled CM of Himachal Pradesh Raja Virbhadra Singh. It is needless to mention that Himachal Pradesh is a Congress-ruled state. Is it kosher to compare the kind of coverage two different incidents of the same nature received, Rajdeep? Or are you batting for Akhlaq and not Noman as the latter actually did what the former was rumoured to have done?
The very presumption that nothing comparable to Dadri lynching happened in the past, and the conclusive attitude attributing anything bad that happened post May 26, 2014 to Modi and BJP supporters is ludicrous, Rajdeep! As Rupa Subramanya observes in her remarkable write-up, the numbers will disappoint you if you think India has become more communal (intolerant as well) under Modi.
As you mentioned 2002 and Babu Bajrangi, have you ever wondered why that so-called confession (the alleged expose of tehelka) not admitted as a proof by the court?
A journalist’s job is to report things as they happen, not to preach what’s comparable and what’s not! Nevertheless, Rajdeep, you’re quite entitled to express your opinion as a fifth-columnist through op-eds; but it’s high time you realized that airing opinions is no longer a privilege with the advent of the Social Media. Why is it difficult for you to let others express their opinions, howsoever ‘ludicrous’ you think they are? After all, it’s that very freedom which you claim to defend!
Now let’s talk about Prashanth Poojaray, a Bajrang Dal activist who was brutally murdered for his anti cow-slaughter campaign. So what if he belonged to the Bajrang Dal which according to you legitimizes violence as a means of protest? Rajdeep, you have defended much worse in the past. Let me refresh your memory. You questioned the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in an (allegedly fake) police encounter. So who was this Sohrabuddin- a preacher, a saint? Sohrabuddin Sheikh was a hardcore criminal. Yet your ilk and you chose to be the cheerleaders of Sohrabuddin only to further your agenda to defame Narendra Modi.
Poojaray’s only misfortune (rather crime) was that he was affiliated to Bajrang Dal and was an animal liberation activist. What was he fighting for? He was fighting against cow-slaughter which is already banned in Karnataka by the law. Rajdeep doesn’t feel outraged because his blind hatred for the Bajrang Dal prevents him to even consider Prashanth a human being, let alone the victim of a heinous crime. It therefore doesn’t bother Rajdeep even if the eye-witness to the murder of Poojaray dies in mysterious circumstances, or the police term it a case of hate-crime, or a Pakistan angle is reveled in his murder. It doesn’t bother Rajdeep that a Karnataka minister participated in an event organized by the PFI, militant leftist organization responsible for the brutal murder of Prashanth, and was seen sharing stage with murderers of Poojary.
Poojaray was, in a way, murdered because of the incompetence of the Government of Karnataka to enforce the anti cow-slaughter law in full-force. Whether it’s a bad law can be argued and there’s a place called legislative assembly designated for the same purpose. Until it’s in force, each and every law is a good law which must be enforced fully…
It’s about neither Akhlaq nor Prashanth. It’s rather about the conduct of people like you who constitute the Indian mainstream media, and also those who have returned their Sahitya Akademi awards, citing pogrom of Sikhs followed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination, as the reason in the year 2015… Your selective outrage and agenda driven behaviour is hurting India. You are quite entitled to carry forward your agenda, but be a man enough to admit the same, Rajdeep. If not anything else, you should learn at least this from your former colleague Ashutosh Gupta…