Its been eight months and 10 days since Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched by a mob in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh on the suspicion of possessing beef, but the embers of the controversy refuse to die.
A week back the final report on the meat found from the house of Akhlaq in Bisahra Village of Greater Noida, confirmed that the flesh was that of a cow. It was compiled by the Central Forensic and Scientific Lab in Mathura.
But eyebrows were raised as the lab where the samples were tested is governed by the Uttar Pradesh government.
The preliminary report of the lab test of the pieces of meat recovered from Akhlaq's house had ruled out that it was cow meat. It suggested that the flesh is that of a goat.
The report confirming that if was cow meat comes at a time when Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh are round the corner. This report could well be used as a tool to funnel religious sentiments by various political parties and divide the state on religious grounds quite easily, noted Firstpost's Vivek Awasthi.
"Ghettoisation of Muslims on the basis of fear is an old art practiced by all so-called "secular" parties in India. The tragedy of Akhlaq thus also became an opportunity for the Akhilesh Yadav government to carefully exploit and consolidate its Muslim vote bank," wrote Sreemoy Talukdar of Firstpost.
BJP parliamentarian Yogi Adityanath asked that action should be taken against Akhlaq's family for eating beef and the compensation given to the family should be taken back, while the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) demanded apology from the Uttar Pradesh government, Bollywood actors Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan, and all those who had returned awards in the fallout of the Dadri lynching incident.
But its not just the state government, political parties and the upcoming Assembly elections, trouble has been brewing in Dadri itself.
After the new report was released, the administration and police in Greater Noida was put on high alert as a 'mahapanchayat' was called on Monday afternoon in village over demand for registration of an FIR against Akhlaq's family for alleged cow slaughter.
The jawans of the Uttar Pradesh Provincial Armed Constabulary have been patrolling the village since Monday evening. District Magistrate of Gautam Budh Nagar NP Singh clamped Section 144 CrPC and issued prohibitory orders banning gathering of five or more persons in the district.
The state police has also clarified that the flesh was in fact recovered from the "tri-junction near a transformer" outside Akhlaq's residence and not from his home, reports DNA.
But come Tuesday, the situation in Bishada was tense as locals held a protest meeting ignoring the prohibitory orders.
The protest meeting was also attended by some local level Shiv Sena members, according to the organisers.
"Situation is under control," Singh said, adding he has appealed to the residents not to resort to violence. "Political leaders should not politicise the matter since it is subjudice. "Let the case proceed in court. They can put their views or evidence before the court. Nobody will be allowed to disturb law and order.”
This comes after some Hindu frontal organisations — VHP, Rashtrawadi Pratap Sena, Goraksha Dal and Hindu Yuva Vahini — said that they will participate in the panchayat. Sanjay Rana, local BJP leader and father of accused Vishal Rana, had threatened that the mahapanchayat will be held in the village as police have failed to register an FIR against Akhlaq's family.
Residents of Bishada village, including the kin of the accused in the lynching case, met the Gautam Budh Nagar SSP to press their demand for registration of an FIR. VHP leader Surindera Jain also visited the village on Sunday and claimed that that the accused have falsely been implicated.
Meanwhile, Akhlaq's family has decided to challenge in court the new forensic report, reports The Times of India. Yusuf Saifi, Akhlaq family's lawyer, said the forensic report is not related to the case. "The report will be challenged in Surajpur court soon," he said.
The Congress, on the other hand, criticised the statements of BJP leaders, saying it will vitiate the atmosphere. "Calling for mahapanchayat and the statements being made after the forensic report came are not proper. Whether it is the Centre or the state government, it should be stopped," PL Punia said.
Later on Sunday evening, villagers held a meeting at Shiv temple in Bishada and decided that after 20 days they will take a call where to hold the mahapanchayat. They said they will maintain peace and on Wednesday move the district court for filing of an FIR against Akhlaq's family.
“The issue of cow is an issue of our faith. We are peace-loving and we believe in the justice system. However, in 20 days, the government should look at all alternatives and listen to our demands. Otherwise, the capacity to contain this public anger might not exist in my village,” said Rana, reports The Indian Express.
"They have decided not to take law in their hands but fight their case in the court. Talks were held with villagers who have promised to pursue their legal battle in court and not resort to violence or other means which could disturb law and order," Singh added.
A DNA report stated that SSP Dharmendra Yadav has said that a case will be filed against Akhlaq's family only if charges of beef possession are found true.
Meanwhile, one of juvenile accused in Bishada case, was released from Gautam Buddha Nagar reform home following bail granted by the high court.
Nineteen people were arrested in connection with the murder of Akhlaq, while one of the accused was given a clean chit by police. As one of the accused was minor, he was sent to the remand home.
With inputs from agencies