Tension returned to Dadri’s Bisada village in Uttar Pradesh exactly a year after a Muslim man, Mohammed Akhlaq, was lynched over rumours of consuming beef. Women members of several Hindu families, whose sons and brothers were lodged in jail in connection with the lynching, embarked on a sit-in dharna at the village temple, demanding the arrest of Akhlaq’s brother Jan Mohammed for slaughtering a cow.
The dharna, which began on Wednesday evening, came amid reports that the police had decided to give a clean chit to Akhlaq’s family members in the cow slaughter case. The dharna set alarm bells ringing in the district administration and a large number of senior officials, police personnel and intelligence sleuths reached the village.
All efforts to persuade the women to call off the dharna failed. “We will embark on an indefinite fast from Saturday if our demands are not met,” said Suneheri Devi, whose son had been jailed. “It has been a year. Our sons and brothers are in jail and those who slaughtered the cow are roaming freely. Many families are on the brink of starvation as their earning members are in jail,” she said.
In September last year, a mob had lynched Akhlaq and seriously wounded his son Danish after rumours spread that beef was being cooked at their home in Bisada village. The killing triggered nationwide outrage, with the Akhilesh Yadav government drawing flak from even international organisations.
A few months ago, a court in Gautam Buddh Nagar district had ordered the registration of a case against Akhlaq’s kin for cow slaughtering. The order came after a forensic laboratory in Mathura said in its report that the piece of meat recovered from Akhlaq's house was of “a cow or its progeny’”.
The villagers had been protesting the arrest of several youths in connection with the lynching, claiming they were innocent. They had also held a ‘mahapanchayat’, in which members of the powerful Jat community from Bisada and adjoining villages participated.