Even as the brutal murder of a 52-year-old Muslim man by a Hindu mob in Uttar Pradesh's Bisada village has sparked outrage, leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party are already trivialising the issue. Here are six outrageous things BJP leaders have said since the incident took place on Monday night.
1. "Just an accident"
Culture minister Mahesh Sharma termed Monday night's incident an "accident". "This (incident) should be considered as an accident without giving any communal colour to it," said Sharma, Minister of State for Tourism.
The BJP MP from Noida claimed that two other families who lived with the family of the murdered man, Mohammed Akhlaq, were not attacked, essentially shifting blame to the victims.
"About 10-12 houses of other community are in the outlying part of the village but no incident concerning them has happened," he said. "I feel this incident occurred due to some misunderstanding and the law should truthfully act against whoever is responsible for it."
2. "Be a victim"
Worse, BJP MP Tarun Vijay said today that it wasn't the Hindu community's responsibility to maintain peace and the Muslim community should remain mute.
"Why responsibility to keep peace and maintain calm is always put on the Hindus alone? Be a victim and maintain silence in face of assaults!!" tweeted the former editor the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) weekly in Hindi, Panchajanya.
Why responsibility to keep peace and maintain calm is always put on the Hindus alone? Be a victim and maintain silence in face of assaults!!
— Tarun Vijay (@Tarunvijay) October 1, 2015
3. "Innocent children"
A local BJP leader who was a former lawmaker in the area, Nawab Singh Nagar, stoked further controversy by describing the alleged members of the lynch mob as "innocent children". Soon after visiting the village, Nagar said, "If anybody was consuming cow meat then that is wrong," adding that the "innocent kids" who allegedly killed Akhlaq were "children barely 10-15 years old".
4. "Arrest cow slaughterers instead"
Instead, the BJP wants action against those who allegedly killed a cow, even though proof of that is completely absent. "The police have arrested innocent people. We also demand legal action against those people, who are engaged in cow slaughter as it is hurting Hindu sentiments," local BJP leader Vichitra Tomar said on Wednesday.
5. "Some people (just) got agitated"
It appears that the party members are more interested in police investigation on whether beef was consumed by the victim's family, rather than bringing the perpetrators in the horrific incident to book.
"The locals gave samples of meat to the police but they (the cops) did not take it seriously. Then some people got agitated," BJP district president Thakur Harish Singh said on Tuesday, suggesting that the "agitation" was justified.
6. "This happens everyday"
The party even came up with an alternative theory for the 52-year-old man's brutal murder. “The man did not die because of the injuries but because of shock when someone (wrongly) told him his son was dead," said Shrichand Sharma, vice-president of BJP’s western UP unit, to The Indian Express. "This happens every day. When we hurt people’s sentiments, such clashes take place. This was not a communal riot. The Hindu community worships cows. Whose blood won’t boil if they see cow slaughter?”
In fact, he blamed the local police for not registering an FIR after reports of the alleged cow slaughter, calling for a mahapanchayat (mass meeting) on 11 October if the administration, district magistrate and other officials don't listen to their demands.
"From Friday, we will go from village to village and mobilise people. We will not tolerate harassment."