Tragedies like the one that befell the family of Mohd Akhlaq over the past few days are generally followed by tears, anger and sadness. But in Uttar Pradesh, such heart-rending incidents have another companion - politics! Sad, but true.
Ever since the 50-something Akhlaq was lynched by an adrenalin-charged and blinded-by-hate mob for allegedly eating cow's meat, its business 24x7 for our politicians in the state which often brags of its political muscle for sending the maximum prime ministers, including the present one.
There is a Sakshi Maharaj, the Lok Sabha MP from Unnao, who wants "all mothers of people who kill the revered Gau Mata to be hacked to similar deaths" to which you also have a state minister, Mohd Azam Khan, saying that "some people want to pull out his mother from the grave and seek answers".
It is a carnival for the politicians, who are not refraining from an incident that has cost the state its image and a family their elder. There have been statements and counter-statements, all adding fuel to the fire. Khan has said that he will petition the United Nations on the incident and that there was a need to redraw the map of the country.
Affiliates of the BJP, and its own leaders, have been threatening a further repeat of the Dadri lynching if the slaughter of cows did not stop. Sakshi Maharaj, infamous for his vitriolic statements in the past, has said that if the holy mother (cow) is killed by anyone, "we will either die or kill the mothers of such people". He also called Mohd Azam Khan a mentally deranged person and a Pakistani agent.
Gorakhpur MP Mahant Adityanath has also done his bit to further escalate hostilities and communal tensions in the state. Alleging that Akhlaq had recently visited Pakistan and had "changed his lifestyle drastically after return" Adityanath rubbed salt on the wounds of Akhlaq's family, suggesting that he too was a Pakistani agent!
The BJP's state spokesman, Vijay Bahadur Pathak, while refusing to comment on the statements of such leaders says the onus of stopping such incidents fell on the Samajwadi Party (SP) government in the state, something which it has miserably failed in doing. Accusing Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav of doling out more financial assistance to Muslims than Hindus, the BJP leader accused the SP of "bias towards Muslims".
"Is it not a fact that in the past, be it Muzaffarnagar, the killing of Pratapgarh DySP Zia-ul-Haq, Moradabad or even in Dadri...this government has given huge financial assistance to Muslims but when similar things happen to Hindus, the compensation is paltry...is this done," he questioned. Amid talk of the slain Akhlaq's family now contemplating a shift to Chennai, where his younger son is posted with the IAF, the Congress too is busy with its own brand of "secular politics".
The party will be holding a 'Sadbhavna Upvaas' at Dadri which will be attended by state leaders like Nirmal Khatri, Raj Babbar, Jatin Prasad, R.P.N. Singh and national general secretary Madhusudan Mistry. The party has already alleged a "hand-in-glove-pact" between the BJP and SP for electoral harvest. SP spokesman Rajendra Chowdhary says all this was being done at the behest of the BJP, which was trying to thwart the state's march on the path of development.
Asked to react on Azam Khan's utterances however, draws silence from SP leaders. And sadly, amidst all this melee to further aggravate the widening chasm between the two communities, a heart-touching incident seems lost in the maze of hatred and suspicion. Last week, as leaders were busy comparing Dadri to Babri and threats were being dished out by the others, a young 21-year-old Muslim youngster, Mohd Zaki, had jumped into a deep well to pull out a cow which had stumbled into it.
As a crane was requisitioned, curious onlookers, mostly Hindu's pitied the cow but did not muster enough courage to jump into the well to tie a strap with a hook around the cow's neck and tag it to the crane. Zaki, on his way to offer namaaz, heard the commotion and jumped into the well and did the needful. He was also attacked by the cow by her horns but he did not give up.
This is the 'Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb' (culture) that has kept the state a beautiful place it is. God forbid, hope it is not going to change!
(The views expressed are personal. Mohit Dubey can be contacted at email@example.com)