Of all the different voices that were raised after the brutal lynching of a middleaged Muslim villager and his 22-year-old son by a prdominantly Hindu mob at the Bisara village in Uttar Pradesh, the most prominent was that of Union Minister Mahesh Sharma who tried to play down the violence in the national media. Sharma was slammed for terming the grisly killing of Mohammad Akhlaq as an "unfortunate accident" and an apparent "misunderstanding" even though he appealed for calm and requested political parties to not give the killing a communal motive.
But the nature of the killing, evident from the narrative of the family, directly contradicted with Sharma's version. The raging mob scaled the walls of the house, broke down the door, dragged Akhlaq and his son out and proceeded to kick and hit him with bricks. The violence followed a temple priest's announcement that the Muslim family was responsible for slaughtering and eating a cow.
However, six days after the murder, Sharma continued to explain away the violence, maintaining that the "intention (of the mob) was not to lynch" the Muslim blacksmith.
Speaking to the The Sunday Express, Sharma said whenever "there is any buzz about cow slaughter, media, people all rush (to the spot). It (the murder) took place as a reaction to that incident (cow slaughter)."
"You must also consider that there was also a 17-year-old daughter in that home. Kisi ne usey ungli nahin lagaayi (no one raised a finger on her),” Sharma said.
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On Friday, Sharma had said: "If anyone wants to come and help the family, they are most welcome. But the village will not admit entry to anyone who wants to politicize the issue. I appeal with folder arms that do not communalize this unfortunate accident. I have brief Home Minister Rajnath Singh and have called for a probe by the highest authorities. The Home Minister is upset about the incident. I have met the family. This sort of incident should not have happened in any civilized society. Justice will be served for everyone - the family and also for the youths under arrest."
In this video, he is seen telling ANI that the macabre incident was a "misunderstanding".
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Sharma, who is a doctor himself, said the injuries on Danish suggest that the mob did not intend to lynch him and that it was a momentary outburst of anger.
"Momentarily hai (It was momentary). Gaay ke maans par hum logon ka… andar se aatma hilne lagti hai (On beef… our soul starts shaking)," Express quoted him as saying.
Two youngsters, alleged to be the main accused in the lynching were arrested yesterday as uneasy calm continued to prevail in the village where the situation was claimed to be under control.
The 18-year-olds identified as Shivam and Vishal were arrested from their hideout in a locality close to the village, police said.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal visited the bereaved family, with the latter deprecating attempts at communalising the tragedy. After being initially stopped by the local administration from visiting the village in Dadri in Uttar Pradesh on Delhi's outskirts, Kejriwal met the grieving family and lashed out at political parties "spreading poison" between Hindus and Muslims for votebank politics.
Union Minister Kiren Rijiju said the lynching was being "excessively politicised" and government will take action once it gets the report from Uttar Pradesh on the incident. "Excessive politics is being done on the issue. Once, we get the report we will take action accordingly," the Minister of State for Home told reporters. (With inputs from PTI)