On Sunday, when Yogi Adityanath took oath as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Bishahra, a Thakur-dominated village, danced and celebrated with a DJ in attendance late into the night.
The residents believed they had reasons for revelry, and the participants included members of the Gau Raksha Hindu Dal (Save cow Hindu protection force), a cow vigilante outfit active in Dadri.
The family members of the youths arrested on charges of lynching Mohammad Akhlaq, accusing him of cow slaughter and storing beef, were happy as they saw Mr. Adityanath as someone who “would understand their plight”.
“It is for the first time in the past year-and-a-half that we felt that our plight would be felt and understood by those in power. Yogiji [Mr. Adityanath] has supported Hindus, and he has been a constant source of support, always present in the background, when this incident happened,” Om Kumar, an electrician in Bishahra, told The Hindu.
His sons, Saurav and Gaurav, were arrested on charges of killing Akhlaq. Gaurav, a minor, is out on bail. All the accused, except one, arrested on charges of killing Akhlaq, belong to the dominant Thakur community.
Ved Nagar, the head of Gau Raksha Hindu Dal, told The Hindu on the phone that the “family members of Akhlaq’s murder accused, had met Adityanath twice in Delhi after the incident and he had promised to extend all possible support to them”.
A matter of pride
“It is a matter of pride that a cow protector like Yogiji has become the Chief Minister. Now we expect justice to be done,” Mr. Nagar said.
He said Mr. Adityanath’s appointment “gives hope that the accused in the Akhlaq murder case would soon get bail”. The villagers now see a “ray of hope” because Mr. Adityanath had stood with the accused. In the aftermath of Akhlaq’s lynching, he demanded that the 18 youths arrested in the case be released.
Mr. Adityanath, who belongs to the Thakur community, had demanded that the family of Akhlaq be arrested on charges of cow slaughter and eating beef, and the compensation given to them be withdrawn.
The outfit established by Mr. Adityanath, Hindu Yuva Vahini, had offered guns to “harassed” Hindus of Bishahra.
Fifteen of the 18 accused in the lynching case are in jail. Two of them are out on bail as they were minors. One of the accused died in judicial custody.