Truth can be this rough-edged, odd-angled thing at times which refuses to simply let itself be packed neatly into a dominant narrative.
For instance, Mathura is a city in Uttar Pradesh. Interestingly, India's largest state is ruled by the Samajwadi Party and the name of its Chief Minister is Akhilesh Yadav. And even more interestingly, the laboratory in Mathura (Central Forensic and Scientific Lab) which came out with the forensic report — eight months after the incident — that the meat found in Dadri victim's house was "beef", is under the aegis of the UP government.
Before we proceed, let's be very clear on one point. Whether it is beef or mutton, Mohammad Akhlaq didn't deserve to be lynched by a mob for simply having his dinner. The incident, which happened on 28 September in Bisahra village of Uttar Pradesh's Dadri district is an indelible blot of shame that we must live with. As a CM, Akhilesh Yadav is culpable. It is his duty to take care of the law and order. The ultimate blame, though, must rest with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for letting such a nefarious act happen under his watch.
And it should be pointed out with equal stress that the latest findings doesn't change the weight of the crime. Beef or mutton, the guilty must face the full force of law.
That said, let's turn our attention to the curious chain of events that took place ever since the unfortunate incident took place.
While Dadri lynching was making national and international headlines, the Uttar Pradesh Veterinary department, in its preliminary report, had said the meat over which Akhlaq was killed was "mutton of goat progeny". Police apparently took the sample from a dustbin outside Akhlaq's home and had quoted a local doctor in its statement.
The 'conspiracy theory' fell nicely into the lap of SP which went all guns blazing against the BJP, accusing it of creating an atmosphere of intolerance where Muslims are under mortal threat. Ever since NDA government came to power, came the charge, fanatics of Hindu fringe have become so emboldened that they butcher members of the minority community even based on plain rumours.
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.
Amid all the justifiable outrage over the Dadri killing where the focus was against the BJP government led by Narendra Modi, the media somehow absolved the state's ruling party of all culpability and allowed the Akhilesh Yadav government to escape unscathed and plot its next step.
At this point, let's ponder over a few questions. Why did it take the UP government-accredited lab eight months to find out that the sample in question is "beef"? And what purpose will it serve even if the 'meat is of cow progeny'? Will it have any bearing on the case, as the defence lawyers are proclaiming?
The answer is 'no'. Even it is established that poor Akhlaq had indeed consumed beef, eating of it is not a crime in Uttar Pradesh, only cow slaughter is.
So the question to be asked is this. Why has this seemingly irrelevant piece of news been released eight months after the incident?
For an answer, we may have to turn to a glossed-over bit of news which came out on 26 May. On Sunday, All India Majlis-e-Ittehedual Musalmeen (AIMIM) announced that it will put up candidates on all 403 Assembly seats in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.
Quoting AIMIM state president Shaukat Ali, Deccan Chronicle in a report said that the party is focusing on constituencies that have a sizeable Muslim and Dalit population.
“We are meeting the candidates who are seeking party tickets and soon we will submit our report to the party president Asaduddin Owaisi,” Ali was quoted, as saying.
Unlike its pseudo-secular brethren, AIMIM openly canvasses for Muslim votes. If it seeks to consolidate its formula in Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party is bound to suffer a depletion in its Muslim vote bank while Mayawati's BSP may also lose some of the Dalit votes.
Now imagine you are the ruling party of Uttar Pradesh with an disproportionate reliance on Muslim votes. If another political party targets the same vote bank, what will be your strategy?
Muslims are 18.5 percent of the total population in UP and their number have seen a 25.19% growth in India's most populous state, according to the 2011 Census report.
It is in this context that we must put the Akhilesh Yadav government's desperate attempt to fan the embers of Dadri so that the resultant outrage may engineer yet another consolidation of the minority votes in favour of the SP.
Readers will note how the latest Dadri forensic report was released on Tuesday, just two days after AIMIM made its intent clear of being a major player in UP Assembly polls.
It seems the SP government is yet to have its fill by flogging Akhlaq's death. It now plans another round of assault on his memory to practice "secular" politics.
First Published On : Jun 1, 2016 18:42 IST