Police have detained an Uttar Pradesh Homeguards constable who, they say, is a key conspirator behind the mob attack in Bisara village, Dadri, on Monday in which Mohammad Akhlaq, 50, was beaten to death and his son, Danish, 22, seriously injured.
The Homeguard who has been detained has been identified as Vinay, a resident of Bisara who was posted at the Jarcha police station. According to the police, Vinay, said to be in his late twenties, forced the temple priest to make the announcement about a Muslim family storing and consuming beef.
Meanwhile, the Dadri police on Saturday arrested two more suspects, Vishal Rana and Shivam Rana, taking the total number of arrests to eight. The two men, who are cousins, allegedly claimed to have seen the remains of a slaughtered cow and informed Vinay. They are reported to have accompanied Vinay to the temple. The duo had fled Bisara after the incident, and were found hiding in a village nearby. Police sources identified Vishal’s father, Sanjay Rana, as a local BJP leader.
According to a senior police officer, Vinay had a personal dispute with Akhlaq earlier and had been instigating a group of youths to attack his family, alleging that they were involved in cow slaughter.
Another senior officer said Vinay was being questioned on the motive behind the attack, and would be arrested after his confession.
When contacted, Chandra Mohan Mishra, district Homeguards commandant, confirmed that Vinay was a Homeguards constable posted in Jarcha. Mishra said the records showed that Vinay was absent from duty on September 27-29. He said the Homeguards company commander had told him that police had detained Vinay on Thursday.
According to the police, on September 28, Vinay, accompanied by Vishal and Shivam, arrived at the village temple at night, just as the priest, Sukhdas Mahatma, was closing the door. Vinay allegedly asked the priest to announce that a cow had been slaughtered in the village and everyone should assemble near the temple.
The priest is reported to have refused to make the announcement, but Vinay, who was in uniform, allegedly threatened him. The announcement was then made.
When the villagers gathered at the temple, Vinay reportedly addressed the crowd and told them that Akhlaq had killed a cow and he should be taught a lesson. A group of youths were reportedly sent to Akhlaq’s house, to check that he and his son were present there.
The mob, allegedly led by Vinay, then stormed the house and attacked Akhlaq and his family.
Police sources said Vinay had initially told officials that he was an eyewitness to the incident. He later became a suspect when he tried to mislead the police about Akhlaq supplying beef and his connection with cattle smugglers.
Inspector General, Meerut Zone, Alok Sharma said the autopsy report had confirmed the cause of Akhlaq’s death as ante-mortem injuries.
Meanwhile, speaking to The Sunday Express, Sanjay Rana demanded a CBI inquiry into the case.
“A CBI inquiry should be conducted so that the actual culprits are punished. A case of cow slaughter against the deceased and his family should also be registered,” he said.
Rana said Shivam is his brother’s son, and both the youths are 20 years old. While Vishal works at a factory in Okhla, Shivam is pursuing B. Pharma at Santosh Medical College, he said.
“My children are innocent. Vishal had to abandon his studies after Class XII because he met with an accident two years ago and a lot of money was spent on his treatment,” he said.