Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Cow a Cover for Divisive Politics

BJP and Bajrang Dal Exposed in Bihar “beef” attack
Syyed Mansoor Agha
Switching sides by Nitish Kumar in Bihar and returning of BJP in the Government has given wings to communally inspired politicians in the state. Within a week, the votaries of Hindutva in the guise of “Gau Rakshak” (cow vigilantes) showed their color in District Bhojpur, when a group of BJP leaders along with Bajrang Dal activists intercepted a truck in the wee hours of Thursday, (August 03, 17) blocked NH 84 for over 3 Hrs, assaulted three Muslim men traveling in the truck which was carrying bovine meat as per routine to Bengal where it fetches higher price than in Bihar. The group also tried to set the vehicle on fire but police foiled the attempt..
The BJP leaders raised the question of “illegal slaughtering”. It may be pointed out that rules under International norms make it mandatory to stun the animal on head by heavy electric shock before slaughtering. The standard slaughter house are a costly affair and only big meat export houses can afford to built. Overlooking the practical problem UP Government and now the Bihar’s new government is stressing upon “only legal slaughter houses.” After taking charge of the Animal Husbandry Department in Bihar, Minister Pashupati Kumar Paras of BJP in his first statement declared that all illegal slaughter houses will be closed down.
That Shahpur attack was meticulously planned in the knowledge of senior BJP leaders and the local police. The activists, who carried out the operations, alleged that the truck was carrying beef. But the driver bets it was buffalo meat. The attackers claimed that they had informed the police of “beef smuggling” from Ranisagar village near Buxar and targeted the police for “failure to check the smuggling” and running “illegal slaughterhouse.”  
Police acted fast under Sub-Divisional Police Officer of Jagdishpur Mr. Daya Shanker and saved three persons from their clutches. Under the pressure of “the mob” police confiscated the truck with buffalo meat and took the driver Sharfuddin Khan with two other in custody. Later they were formally arrested with a fourth person for running slaughterhouse. Attackers were left scot-free. The driver and two others who were with him belong to the neighboring Rohtas District. District Magistrate of Bhojpur Sanjiv Kumar said sample of the meat had been sent for test. But there is no report of any effort to recover the hide or foot and head of the slaughtered animals to ascertain their progeny. Cow slaughter is banned in the state, under the Bihar Preservation and Improvement of Animals Act, 1955.
The Cow Vigilante
After BJP came in absolute power in Delhi, incidents of brutally thrashing and lynching of animal traders and skinners of dead animals by self-styled “cow vigilante groups” have emerged as a new tactic to polarize the votes and won the elections. BJP-ruled states saw such incidents frequently. The attackers are given political protection and victims left to bleed. No return of illegally confiscated animals and no compensation for loss of life and property. Universal condemnation of such incidents especially strong criticism in international media resulted in Prime Minister’s jibe on attackers saying “killing people” in the name of “gau bhakti” is not acceptable. However his warning failed to deter and stop application of the tactic. All the activists belonged to fringe organizations of BJP and brought up under the false notion of “Nationalism” and “Hindu Pride”.
Planned attack
Shahpur attack was planned and executed by a BJP state EC member Mr. Bhuwar Ojha, the husband of former BJP MLA of the area Munni Devi. Mr. Ojha neither hid his identity nor his intentions. His operation team consisted of BJP leaders like Chandan Pandey, Ankit Pandey, Rakesh Tiwary and Pankaj Tiwari, and Bajrang Dal activists Nishu Rao, Krishna Kant Singh and Dhoni. Mr. Bhuwar OJha’s wife Munni Devi has been two times MLA. She was defeated in 2016 by RJD. Mr. Ojha’s brother Visheshwar Ojha was also BJP leader who was murdered some times back. So he has an eye on the constituency. Mr. Chandan Pandey, the general secretary of BJP’s Shahpur unit claims that he had kept Mr. Bhuwar “posted about every little detail of the trap”. OJha also arrived at the spot and participated in road blockade.  
Mr. Pandey is also administrator of a WhatsApp group named ‘Bhojpur news’. The local PS in-charge Bipin Kumar is a member of the group. Late Wednesday night, Pandey posted that a truck carrying meat will cross the town from Ranisagar, 5 km away. He called to intercept it. By 2 AM, 15 BJP and Bajrang Dal activists assembled on road. The truck arrived around 5.15 AM on Thursday. They stopped it. According to Pandey, he informed from the spot to Mr. Bashistha Prasad, the local BJP leader and chairman of Nagar Panchayat who in turn informed the Shahpur police SHO and Jagdishpur Sub Divisional Police Officer Daya Shanker of the act. “Police arrived at 6 pm, seized the truck and take in to the custody the truck driver and two others,” he said.
Mr. Bhuwar Ojha reportedly told a national daily, “We had been complaining police for some time about an “illegal” slaughterhouse in the Ranisagar but in vain. Now that the BJP is part of the state government, our morale has been boosted.” “We are not staging any protests. We should not be protesting against our own government now,” said Ojha. The incident would have shocked and caught the C.M. napping. He would have sensed the trap, he has put foot in.
Ranisagar and Bagahi are the only Muslim-dominated areas in the Shahpur assembly area so they are “the problem areas” for BJP EC Member Mr. Ojha. He claimed that the operation has consent with top leaders of State BJP, who have asked him to ensure that “no untoward incident takes place”. He exactly did that. The driver was not lynched.
The blessing and guidance by the top leaders in this case speaks a lot. This has been alleged time and again that attacks by “gau rakshaks” are not stray or spontaneous but part of a strategy for political gain. The “lynching, stripping, and beating” of the members of Muslims and Dalits, and “filming and uploading on social media” are parts of the strategy.  
Ranisagar, where the incident was enacted, has 70 percent Muslim population. Rests are the Dalits and EBC’s. Till Thursday morning they lived in complete harmony. The deployment of Police has overshadowed the whole atmosphere. Locals feel “some leaders are looking for reasons to make us fight. We want them to stay away.” Their worry is, “the village should not be defamed for illegal slaughter.”
SDM Jagdishpur, Mr. Kumar Pankaj, has indirectly acceded that the incident has raised communal tension in “some pockets” “But the situation is completely under control.” Adequate Police have been deployed. However there are some murmurs of communal feelings. A local Hindu resident told IE, “Ranisagar has four mosques and only one temple. We hold the Ashtjaam (24-hour religious chanting) once in a year but we did not organize it for three years until 2015 out of fear. It resumed in 2016 but police took an undertaking from us that if communal tension arises, we alone could be held responsible.” He is hopeful that it will change.
Political Problem
The Shahpur assembly constituency was represented from 2005 till 2015, by BJP’s Munni Devi. In 2016 she was defeated by RJD leader Rahul Tewary, the son of former JD(U) MP Shivanand Tewary. Her husband, Ojha accuses Rahul and his father Shivanand Tewary of indulging in “Muslim appeasement”. Mr. Shivanand Tewary, told reporters,“The constituency is heavily dominated by Brahmins followed by Yadavs, Rajputs and Bhumihars. Muslims are hardly 10 percent. Ranisagar and Bagahi are the only Muslim dominated pockets. Now that the BJP is part of the government, it sees an opening for its politics in Shahpur.”

In 2016 assembly elections BJP won only 53 seats and NDA allies only 5 in 243 strong house. In the next assembly elections party’s target will be to win absolute majority and dump Nitish Kumar. Racking up trivial issues locally to raise communal passions will be most suitable policy for the party henceforth. So the first bell has ranged from Shahpur. Nitish shall have to listen to the music. Making his presence feel Lalu Yadav said, "The Gau Rakshak thrashed people in the name of cow protection and beef in Bhojpur. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that he would take stern action. Let's see what stern action he would take," Lalu said. (E) August 10, 2017 

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