Conspiracies are flying thick and fast as newspapers try to make sense of the violence triggered by an alleged case of cow slaughter in Bulandshahr.
“Bajrang Dal to ex-pradhan: Meet some men of Bulandshahr mob”, reads a headline on The Indian Express front page.
Of these, four men have been jailed for the violence that resulted in the death of a police officer and a young local. The main accused, a district convener of the Bajrang Dal, is still on the run.
But the Uttar Pradesh chief minister’s concern is best articulated by a headline deep within The Times of India: “CM Yogi orders crackdown on cow killers”. According to the report, the CM demands “strictest action”, not against those found guilty of the violence, but “against those found guilty of cow slaughter”.
He was quoted as saying that since the violence was a “part of a larger conspiracy… anyone who is related to cow slaughter directly or indirectly should be arrested in a time-bound manner”.
In its editorial, Hindustan Times holds Adityanath accountable for the violence, writing, “Ensuring that the killers in the Bulandshahr incident are brought to book is the responsibility of the state’s criminal justice system. As for the larger questions… the buck stops with none other than Yogi Adityanath, who heads the executive in Uttar Pradesh.”
The Telegraph looks for answers where no other newspaper does: To the family that owns the land on which the cows were found. They say “they had decided to bury them (the carcasses) right away but ‘outsiders did not allow us to do so’,” the paper reports.
Meanwhile, “two Bharatiya Janata Party lawmakers attempted on Tuesday to draw a link between the Bulandshahr violence and an Islamic congregation nearby”, Hindustan Times reported.
The congregation took place 40 kilometres away from the site of the violence. Police have debunked this claim, saying the congregation had “nothing to do with the incident”. According to The Telegraph, “The location and timing of the violence, the SIT officer said, reinforce the initial findings that the violence was well planned to inflame communal passions”.
The report quotes the officer as saying, “The motive was to attack Muslims returning from the Ijtema in the name of cow slaughter and stoke communal violence.”
The Times in its editorial attributes the Bulandshahr mess to the “culture of impunity that cow vigilantes have come to enjoy in states like Uttar Pradesh, where police often don’t even prosecute their crimes sincerely”.
The Express concurs, writing, “The Uttar Pradesh government has, on the one hand, shown its commitment to cow protection. On the other, its encouragement of encounter culture has shown its commitment to impunity. The message is clear: There is support for vigilantism if it serves the larger political goal.”
Amid the headlines about the slain cop’s son mourning his father, Sumit Kumar, the youth killed in the clashes, remains largely forgotten by newspapers. The Indian Express remembers him on Page 8, reporting that his family will receive a compensation of Rs 5 lakh.
News of suspected AgustaWestland middleman Christian Michel’s extradition to India was the other big front-page story.
A report in The Economic Times says, “On arrival, official sources told ET that Michel was formally arrested and will be produced before the special Central Bureau of Investigation judge in Patiala House on Wednesday.”
“Both CBI and Enforcement Directorate will seek his custodial interrogation from the court. The expectation is that he may reveal the names of Indian ‘political conduits’, which he has so far denied,” it adds.
Climate change is real, and according to the Hindustan Times front page flap, Assam and Mizoram are under a “huge threat”. The report covers a presentation made by Indian scientists at the ongoing COP24 in Poland. According to the team, Assam is under threat because it has one of the lowest areas under irrigation and lowest forest area per 1,000 rural households among the 12 (Himalayan) states”, and Mizoram because in addition to Assam’s problems, “at least 30 per cent of (its) geographical area is under slope”.
The Times of India also reports another worrying story, that “In 2017, India was second worst in extreme weather deaths”
Anchor Navika Kumar discussed whether BJP could be held responsible for the murder of SHO Subodh Kumar Singh during the recent violence in Bulandshahr over suspected cow slaughter.
Samajwadi Party spokesperson Ghanshyam Tiwari condemned the killing. “What happened in Bulandshahr clearly showcases the fact that BJP does not respect policemen,” he added.
Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) spokesperson Shriraj Nair, meanwhile, sought to warn against media trials. “Let the SIT reports come first, let us not conduct media trials,” he said.
Anchor Anjana Om Kashyap spearheaded a discussion over a recent statement made by Congress president Rahul Gandhi: Campaigning in Alwar, Rajasthan, recently, Rahul had said that PM Narendra Modi should refrain from beginning his rallies with a chant of “Bharat mata ki jai” and instead hail the businessmen “he works for”.
Congress spokesperson Rohan Gupta defended Gandhi’s statement. “The (Narendra Modi) government knew that Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya are going to flee the country yet they remained silent,” he said.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra replied that the BJP was the “servant” of Bharat mata. “BJP workers are sitting at Bharat mata’s feet as its servants,” he added.
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