Cow lynching incident: Little remorse in Noida village

Last Updated 03 May 2019, 10:45 IST

Three-and-a-half years after this non-descript village on the fringes of the glitzy sub-urban Delhi shot to infamy due to the lynching of Mohammad Akhlaq, there is little remorse over the incident.

The communal divide is stark in this village, about 60 km from Delhi which is part of the Gautam Buddha Nagar Lok Sabha (Uttar Pradesh) seat from where Union minister Mahesh Sharma is seeking re-election.

While the Lok Sabha seat is better known as Noida, an IT and manufacturing hub with an enviable skyline, a large part of it is rural area with vast tracts of farmland, that are fast giving way to development in the form of expressways and industries.

“Imagine what would have happened to me had I cut a pig in a Muslim majority locality,” 56-year-old shopkeeper Ravinder Singh told DH when asked about the lynching of Akhlaq in September 2015 by a mob over allegations of slaughtering a calf.

Septuagenarian Tej Singh, who owns large tracts of land in the village abutting the buzzing mega city of Noida, is dismissive about the incident that pitch-forked this village into global consciousness.

“It was a one off incident, mostly because passions were running high and the youth were uncontrollable. But, the village has never seen violence after that,” said Singh, sipping tea on a charpoy near his farm.

Muslim families live on the fringes of the village, wary about picking up fights with the Rajputs, who own most of the farmland in the region.

The Muslims, mostly carpenters, blacksmiths and barbers, rely on jobs from other communities to keep their hearth warm.

“Nobody cares for us for we are poor,” 55-year-old Shabbir Saifi, a carpenter, said wistfully standing on his vacant plot where he was promised a home under the government's scheme of housing for the poor.

Shabbir said that everyone remembers us when there is some work to do, but otherwise they are least bothered. “I will definitely cast my vote and do it wisely,” he said.

“We haven't even got cooking gas connections, which Rajput and other upper caste communities have. My wife still cooks food using firewood,” said Siraj Saifi, a 48-year-old carpenter, who works in neighbouring cities such as Noida and Ghaziabad.

Union minister Mahesh Sharma is seeking a second term from Gautam Buddha Nagar Lok Sabha seat. Pitted against him are greenhorns 37-year-old Satveer Nagar of the BSP and 31-year-old Arvind Kumar Singh of the Congress.

In Bisahda, villagers are upset at Sharma, claiming that he has done a vanishing act after winning the 2014 Lok Sabha seat.

“It is our misfortune that we will have to vote for Sharma. But, we know we are voting to make Modi the prime minister,” said Narendra Sharma, 61-year-old a priest who presides over religious functions in the region.

Fifty-year-old Rakesh Gautam, who irons clothes for a living, admits that over the last three years the village has got concrete roads leading to almost every home.

“Things have changed, but the village is more or less the same. There are no jobs,” said Gautam.

Gautam Buddha Nagar Lok Sabha seat comprises five Assembly constituencies— Noida, Dadri, Jewar, Sikandrabad and Khurja— where 22.97 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise. Elections will be held on April 11.

(Published 30 March 2019, 15:34 IST)

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