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Uttar Pradesh Emerges As Deadliest State For Cow-Related Violence

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Since the Bharatiya Janata Party and Yogi Adityanath came to power in Uttar Pradesh in March 2017, India’s most populous state has recorded 69 percent of its cases of bovine-related violence, according to a FactChecker.in database that tracks such crime.

With four deaths in 21 attacks in 2018–with the lynchings of 45-year-old Qasim Qureshi in Hapur, western UP, 20-year-old Shahrukh Khan in Bareilly, northern UP, and the latest murder of a police inspector and a bystander–UP has emerged as the deadliest for bovine-related hate violence and reports more attacks than any other state. In 2017, West Bengal, with five dead, topped the death charts, as we reported on Sept. 01, 2017.

Before March 2017, when Adityanath came to power, UP recorded five incidents of bovine-related hate violence. After that, up to Dec. 03, 2018, the state has now recorded 11 cases of bovine-related hate violence.

With less than 30 days to go to the end of the year, India in 2018, with 10 dead in 21 attacks, is one murder away from equalling the 2017 death toll–deadliest year since 2010, start year of our database–in bovine-related hate violence. These attacks are also becoming deadlier, according to patterns emerging from our data.

The latest attack was the murder on Dec. 03, 2018, of police inspector Subodh Kumar Singh, who was shot in the head–likely with his own firearm–by cow vigilantes on a field in the western UP district of Bulandshahr. They were apparently incensed by the discovery of cow carcasses.

A bystander, Sumit (20), an undergraduate student at a government college, also died of a gunshot injury.

A video clip on social media shows the slain inspector’s body hanging out of his official vehicle, while protesters record the scene, as gunshots ring in the background. Singh, 47, was once the officer investigating the Sept. 28, 2015 lynching of Mohammed Akhlaq–father of an Indian Air Force serviceman–in Dadri, western UP, before he was transferred to Varanasi in November 2015.

Akhlaq’s murder was the first bovine-related hate violence recorded in UP since 2010, according to our database.

‘Singh Knew What These People Can Do’

“Singh was instrumental in the investigation into the Akhlaq-lynching case,” Asad Hayat, a lawyer who has appeared for Akhlaq’s family and other lynching victims, told FactChecker.in. “He (Singh) was the one who filed the FIR, who arrested some of the people and sent the meat samples for testing, which confirmed it wasn’t bovine.”

“Singh knew very well what these people can do to incite violence, and that’s why they tried to attack him,” said Hayat. “He knew how to see right through the farce.”

“If the mob had found meat the previous night, why didn’t they call the police immediately to the spot?” asked Hayat. “If they really cared about cow slaughter, why would they wait till the next day, gather support from Hindutva groups to come rage at the police station?”

It would be premature to say inspector Singh was the target of the murder, UP additional director general (Meerut zone), Prashant Kumar told FactChecker.in. “Since Singh was posted in the region during the time of the Akhlaq lynching case, he was the investigating officer, but he worked on it for barely a month-and-a-half before his transfer–he did not even submit the chargesheet,” Kumar said. A special investigation team (SIT) would probe the murder, he added.

“While it would be premature to say this was targeted, sometimes what prima facie doesn’t appear true, can turn out to be so later, so I cannot comment,” said Kumar. “The SIT should be able to take a holistic call on this.”

The rising trend of violence, since the Yogi Adityanath-BJP government came to power in UP, echoes one of the primary national findings of our database: Since 2010 (the start-point of our database), India has reported 97 bovine-related hate crimes–98 percent of these took place after 2014, when the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power at the Centre.

As India’s largest state, UP, with over 200 million people, accounts for 16 percent of the country’s population. In 2018, the state reported 40 percent of deaths (four of 10) and 29 percent of attacks (six of 21) over cow-protection.

In 2017, while UP reported the most attacks (5) of this kind, it recorded no deaths. This year, with six cases and four deaths, fatalities have reached its previous peak of 2015, when the state reported three cases and four deaths.

Attacks By Cow Vigilantes Are Growing Deadlier

Attacks by cow vigilantes have become deadlier, according to patterns emerging from our data. The chance of such mob violence ending in death has risen by 18 percentage points, from 30 percent in 2017–the deadliest year since 2010 (11 deaths in 37 cases)–to 48 percent in 2018 (10 deaths in 21 cases).

Around 55 percent of the persons attacked and 86% of those killed in bovine-related hate violence are Muslim, who make up 14 percent of India’s population, our database showed.

Cattle carcases have sparked violence in Bulandshahr before, our database shows.

In August 2017, days before Eid, the carcass of a cow was found floating in a local pond. Soon, a mob attacked a nearby Muslim-dominated village, Adauli, less than 50 km from the latest crime. The men beat residents, vandalised homes and ransacked two places of worship, the Times of India reported on Aug. 26, 2017.

Filed Under: Fact Check

Alison Saldanha is an assistant editor with IndiaSpend and FactChecker. This copy was published in a special arrangement with IndiaSpend

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