While tourism minister Mahesh Sharma visited Dadri lynching accused Ravi Sisodia’s village, the jawans who were mercilessly slaughtered during the cowardly Uri attack at the army base camp have been conveniently ignored by the BJP leadership. The only time these army men who lost their lives, and their families, were ever remembered by the BJP leaders was during their rhetoric against Pakistan to gain political mileage out of the attack and post the brave surgical strike conducted by the Indian armed forces.
Union minister Mahesh Sharma had earlier this month visited Bishada village in Uttar Pradesh. It is the village of Ravi, who was accused of killing Mohammad Akhlaq. Ravi Sisodia is one of the 18 accused in last year’s Dadri lynching case. In the aftermath, thousands of people protested against the death of Ravi alleging it was not due to renal or respiratory failure as reported but included foul play. It doesn’t end there; villagers backed the family of Ravi Sisodia by demanding Rs 1 crore in compensation for his death. The death of a murder accused now calls for Rs 1 crore compensation while that of the father of an army jawan is seen disdainfully.
This father is Mohammad Akhlaq who was brutally lynched by a mob in the same village accusing him of consuming, possessing beef. The incident shocked the nation and sparked outrage across the country with debates raging as to who gave the right to vigilantes so they dared to take the law into their hands turning judge jury and executioner, without there being any proof of the incident. His family was heckled, harassed and called names by fellow villagers who were instigated by right wing fanatics. While the dead body of Ravi was placed in a coffin for public display and wrapped in the Indian national flag as if he had been a national hero when alive.
Mohammad Akhlaq’s son serves in the Indian Air Force. He said he is sad to see the coffin of a murder accused draped in tricolour. This ironical situation raises the pertinent question that has the entire intellectual community and civil society flummoxed. The shocking dichotomy on perception of what unfolded and where the country is headed as far as collective conscience is concerned raises alarm bells.
After the death of Ravi, his family refused to perform the last rituals for three days, negotiation with the Uttar Pradesh government behind closed doors. It was reported that leaders of various Hindutva outfits delivered violence inciting speeches in the village which lies in a state which is soon to head for assembly elections next year. Our reporter and photographer who went there for reporting confirmed the incident after spotting VHP and Bajrang Dal members provoking the villagers. Our photographer was heckled for “looking like belonging to a certain community”.
While on the one hand the amount of compensation for Ravi’s death was increased from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh by the Uttar Pradesh government after negotiations with his kin, BJP announced Rs 5 lakh compensation to kin of Uri martyrs. Not only this, BJP Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Katiyar said it was a mistake on the Uttar Pradesh government’s part to provide ex-gratia to the Mohammad Akhlaq’s family and demanded that it should be taken back. BJP termed the offer for compensation as condemnable saying he was a “criminal and providing him with ex-gratia was wrong.” Possessing food to feed the family which was suspected to be beef amounts to criminal activity but murdering a minority for communal reasons makes one a national hero.
The political party which claims to be “nationalist”, and is a partner in the coalition government of Jammu and Kashmir, was reported to be “helpless” in getting ex-gratia sanctioned for Uri martyrs. Not only did no major BJP leader go and meet the next of kin of the Uri martyrs, but they disrespected the deceased soldiers who had laid down their lives for the nation.