A report issued on Tuesday by the forensic laboratory of the Uttar Pradesh University of Veterinary Services (Animal Husbandry) has once again raised the spectre of communal intolerance in Uttar Pradesh, stating that the meat found in Mohammad Akhlaq's home belonged to "cow or its progeny". This has given the beef ban campaigners a fresh lease of online life to justify Akhlaq's brutal killing on 25 September, 2015, that had triggered protests across India, after Akhlaq was dragged out of his house and lynched to death for allegedly eating the meat of a cow, an animal which is held sacred by Hindus.
The forensic lab report from Mathura is at variance with the preliminary report issued by the Uttar Pradesh Veterinary Department in December which stated that the meat was mutton. That result confirmedmedia reports from October which said that the meat was mutton, not beef. As a matter of fact, there was no mention of beef in the FIR filed by the police soon after the killing.
It was after this that the sample was sent to the forensic laboratory in Mathura.
(Danish, injured son of Mohmammad Akhlaq at the High Dependency Unit (HDU) of Kailash hospital on October 8, 2015 in Noida, India. Photo by Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Yesterday, media reports quoted a senior prosecution officer in the case as saying that chemical analysis of the sample showed that the meat was indeed beef. Which was just the cue needed by some people to take to Twitter to justify Akhlaq's lynching.
forensic report says meat in Akhlaq's freezer was beef, not mutton
Now where are you..? , the award wapsi & intolerance gang
— vineet shrivastava (@brahmakayastha) May 31, 2016
For all those that howled Dadri Dadri Intolerance......Meat found in Akhlaq's fridge was beef, confirms forensic lab https://t.co/eIdz1O4Zuu
— nikunj shah (@niku1630) May 31, 2016
But none of Indian Liberals will cry intolerance now. They're still busy evaluating Akhlaq's poop for beef content. https://t.co/nIYFOgnv11
— Sonam Mahajan (@AsYouNotWish) April 25, 2016
However, a Times of India report on Wednesday added a new twist to the grim saga of Akhlaq's killing, played out over eight months on social media platforms as well as the mainstream media. The paper quoted an unnamed UP police officer as saying that though the meat tested was undoubtedly beef, "this in no way proved Akhlaq had either stored or had beef as this was not a meat sample collected from his house." The officer added that, the sample had been "collected from the trijunction near his house in Dadri's Bisada village."
Of course, to state the obvious yet again, the provenance of the meat has no bearing on the case. Akhlaq, a 52-year-old Muslim resident of Bisahra village in Dadri district was killed by a mob which apparently believed that he had consumed beef. The testing of the meat, as the police have pointed out time and again, can only provide motive. This is a murder case and the 18 arrested so far will be prosecuted on that charge.
Uttar Pradesh, like most states, prohibits the slaughter of cows, but does not hold eating beef illegal. Nothing can justify the murder of a human being, as many were quick to point out once news of the fresh report broke.
Dadri forensic report says beef stored in Akhlaq fridge. So? Does that mean a man is to be lynched by a mob? Is this the loony argument?
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) May 31, 2016
Beef or no beef it is immaterial, It is MURDER why there is no investigation on the culprits who murdered #Akhlaq ?Why no arrest of killers?
— Whirling Dervesh (@WhirlingDervesh) June 1, 2016
If Dadri Lynching case is given to NIA, they will prove Akhlaq beat himself to death after consuming beef while kind Mob tried to save him
— Joy (@Joydas) May 31, 2016
The meat found in Akhlaq 's fridge was beef
The meat found in his murderers closet is human
— Rana Safvi رعنا राना (@iamrana) May 31, 2016
Forensics: Meat in Akhlaq possession was beef not mutton! Relevant? Murder is murder! Does type of meat decide type of probe? #DadriLynching
— Arunoday Mukharji (@ArunodayM) May 31, 2016
The Bombay High Court in May this year upheld the ban on cow slaughter but decriminalised the possession of beef, which means that consuming meat that comes from animals killed outside the state will no longer be a crime. The controversy over Akhlaq's death saw a spate of angry protests across the country, against the government as well as attacks against truckers transporting cows.
Akhlaq's family has vehemently denied that they were eating beef. Many Muslims and Christians, as well as many lower-caste Hindus, traditionally consume buffalo meat as a cheap source of protein.
(Family members of Mohammad Akhlaq mourn during his funeral at their village in Bisada on September 29, 2015 in Greater Noida, India. Akhlaq was beaten to death and his son critically injured by a mob over an allegation of storing and consuming beef at home, late night on Monday, in UPs Dadri. Police and PAC were immediately deployed in the village to maintain law and order. Six persons were arrested in connection with the killing of man. Photo by Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Lawyers defending the murder accused want the sections relating to cow slaughter and beef consumption to be considered in the case. "We had been demanding that the Mathura laboratory’s meat examination report be made public for some time. Now, that the report has been released, we can demand the addition of sections relating to cow slaughter and beef consumption in the case. We are working on a strategy,” Ram Saran Nagar, a defence lawyers, told the Indian Express.
The new report is sure to rake up once again the politics of beef that gripped the nation last year.