Rajat Sharma

Was the lynching of a BJP supporter in UP an attempt to intimidate Muslims?

akb fullIn a spine chilling incident in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh, a young Muslim supporter of BJP, Babar Ali, was lynched by people of his own community for distributing sweets to celebrate the victory of the local BJP candidate Panchanan Pathak. The mob was led by local Muslim leaders who had directed villagers to vote in favour of the Samajwadi Party candidate. Babar Ali refused to tow their line. He had a BJP party flag on his house top, and when the BJP candidate won, he distributed sweets and set off firecrackers to celebrate the win.

Babar Ali was threatened by local goons and he went to the local police station to lodge a complaint, but police did not attack. On March 20, several Muslims in a group attacked him inside his house. Babar Ali ran to the terrace to protect himself, but the mob reached there and threw him from the terrace, after lynching him severely. The alleged attackers Azimullah, Arif, Salma and Tahid beat him up badly. Babar Ali was admitted to district hospital in critical condition. He was referred to Lucknow hospital, where he succumbed to injuries five days later.

Babar’s family members alleged that he was getting threats for the last two to three months from political rivals. He was being pressurized not to canvass for the BJP candidate. Babar Ali’s brother Chande Alam said, the plan to kill him was being prepared for the last four months. He alleged that Babar Ali was also offered Rs 10 lakhs to stay away from BJP.

Imagine the plight of his mother, widow and two kids who are surviving after his lynching. Babar’s widow Fatima alleged how the local SP leader Vinod Pradhan asked his supporters to kill Babar if he refused to vote for Samajwadi Party. She described how the attackers beat him up with stones, bricks and lathis, and then threw him from the terrace.

It is indeed spinechilling. Babar Ali was killed not by unknown people, but by his own relatives and neighbours who knew him since childhood. The police officials in Ramkola police station of Kushinagar district did not take any action when Babar Ali sought police protection.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has taken cognizance of this murder and has ordered a high-level probe. The Ramkola police station in-charge has been sent to police lines. DIG, Gorakhpur range, J. Ravinder Gaud met Babar’s family and assured all help and protection to the survivors. Till now, four accused have been arrested. The local SDM admitted that police officers did not take any action when Babar Ali had sought their protection.

Circle Officer Sandeep Verma announced that the chief minister has decided to give Rs 2 lakh ex gratia to Babar’s family. BJP MLA Panchanan Pathak went to Babar Ali’s house, and carried his coffin on his shoulder. Pathak said, the government would take exemplary action against the accused so that such lynching incident is never repeated.

Danish Azad Ansari, the new minister in Yogi’s cabinet, said, “one son (Babar) may have gone, but the family must know that they have another son (Yogi Adityanath) who will stand by them”. The most surprising remark came from Samajwadi Party MP Shafiqur Rahman Barq, who said, “Muslims do not want any one of them should support BJP, and Babar Ali was doing a mistake by supporting BJP”. He was indirectly justifying the lynching incident.

I am surprised how a senior MP of Samajwadi Party can justify such a horrifying lynching incident. This indicates the depth of hatred some people have toward BJP. Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav must break his silence and clarify whether his party justifies lynching of a man only because he was distributing sweets after the victory of a BJP candidate.

No law, or religion, or society can condone such a criminal act. It is no secret that nearly 90 per cent Muslims in UP voted for Samajwadi party this time. Is it an attempt to intimidate Muslims by lynching a person who was canvassing votes for BJP? Is it an attempt to give a message to Muslims in UP the fate that awaits them, if they support BJP? Those who champion the cause of human rights and allege intolerance during BJP rule, must also come forward and express their opinion on this incident.

Fundamentalist leaders like Shafiqur Rahman Barq must listen to another Muslim leader, Majeed Memon of NCP, who, on Monday, posted a tweet which caused ripples in political circles. Memon tweeted: “If Narendra Modi wins people’s mandate, and is also shown as world’s most popular leader, there must be some qualities in him, or good work he may have done which the opposition leaders are unable to find”. He said, Modi must be given his due at a time when opposition leaders leave no opportunity to criticize every policy move by the ruling NDA government.

Later, Memon tried to dilute his stand a bit by saying, “Despite violating the Constitution, creating hatred among people, and dividing society, we must find out how he wins. Opposition should stop talking about hacking of EVMs, since there is no argument on rigging of EVMs that can hold water”, Memon said.

He also said opposition parties must do introspection and research to find out what are the things which are making Narendra Modi acceptable not only to India, but even outside. “In 2019, despite all efforts by the opposition, we could not remove his government. I appreciate that he (Modi) has a good oratory power. He works for 20 hours every day. These are extraordinary qualities of Narendra Modi which I must appreciate besides criticizing him”, he said.

Majeed Memon is right. Until and unless opposition leaders realize the connect between Modi and the people, they cannot formulate an effective strategy to defeat him in elections. Leaders of SP, BSP and Congress in UP failed to realize the fact that it was the common man’s trust in Modi and the five years’ achievements of Yogi Adityanath, that swept BJP to power again.

Free ration to poor people, subsidized housing loans, suppression of local mafia leaders by using bulldozers to raze their ill-gotten properties, creating a sense of security in the minds of common man, were the big weapons that helped BJP in retaining power. The sooner the opposition leaders realize this fact, the better it will be for them to formulate a proper strategy for future.

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