Dadri in Uttar Pradesh state in India witnessed a gory murder last year. A 52 year old Muslim man was killed by a Hindu lynch mob for allegedly killing and eating a cow.
One of the accused in that murder, who was in jail, died today due to health reasons. He was hailed as a martyr by Hindutva leaders and his dead body was draped in national flag in a clear violation rules.
At the same place where Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched a year ago, thousands of residents of Bishahra village in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, sat on a dharna on Thursday, demanding the immediate release of all the 17 accused in the case.
The villagers were protesting after Ravi Sisodia, one of the 18 residents of Bishahra arrested on charges of killing Akhlaq, died of respiratory and renal failure at the LNJP hospital in Delhi on Tuesday.
Sisodia’s coffin was draped with the national flag and he was hailed as a “martyr” by the villagers who alleged that he was killed by the jail staff. His family members maintained that Sisodia was “perfectly fine”, a claim contradicted by their application submitted in the court on Sisodia’s behalf on September 30 that he was suffering from chikungunya and he be transferred to Gautam Buddh Nagar district hospital for better treatment.
The village continued to be extremely tense with several Hindutva groups and VHP leaders addressing the gathering of over a 1,000 people sitting on protest and demanding Rs. 1 crore compensation to Sisodia’s family and a government job to his family members. The villages refused to conduct Sisodia’s last rites unless their demands were met.
VHP leaders like Sadhvi Prachi and members of cow vigilante groups who are active in the region, are present in the village.
Sadhvi Prachi, an accused in the 2013 Muaffarnagar riots, addressed the protesters and invoked the riots while daring the crowds to avenge the “martyrdom” of Sisodia.
Like other religious fundamentalist and hyper nationalist movements , Hindutva consider those who die fighting for their sectarian cause as martyrs even if they kill in cold blood. The most important of such martyrs is Nathuram Godse, the killer of Mohandas Gandhi. On Gandhi’s birthday this year a statue of Godse was unveiled in a special ceremony in Meerut.
The first ever bust of Nathuram Godse – Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin- was installed and unveiled by the members of Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha at their Sharda road office in Meerut on the occasion of Gandhi’s birthday on Sunday. The statue, which had drawn controversy in December 2014, was finally erected as the members of the Hindu outfit also observed Gandhi’s birthday as ‘Dhikkar Divas’.
Detailing, Pandit Ashok Sharma, national vice president of the outfit, said, “In 2014, when we had tried to install the bust of Godse after a foundation stone laying ceremony. It was opposed by police and right-wing outfits due to which the spot was sealed and the matter was taken to court. This time, we exercised extreme caution and unveiled the statue on Gandhi Jayanti – as there can be a no better day. Our step signifies that it is time all Indians stop following Gandhi’s footsteps and start worshipping Godse.”
The ruling party, the BJP, is careful not to be publicly associated with glorifying Godse, but gives silent support. A statue of founder of Hindutva, V D Savarkar, a co-accused in Gandhi murder, is there already in the central hall of Indian Parliament building. Let us hope that the secular democratic forces in India will be strong enough to stop the statue of Godse reaching there.