| Easy target
The preliminary findings of the delegation are as follows: 1. The police version and role are suspect and dubious. There have been earlier occasions when the personnel in the chowki had demanded bribes from animal skin traders on the pretext of implementing the anti-cow slaughter laws in operation in the state. The charge made on the basis of past experience by the family members of those killed that it was the police personnel present who first beat the Dalits because they refused to pay the police requires consideration and investigation.
2. There are many unresolved questions regarding the skinning of the cow that ostensibly triggered the violence. The police version that a dead cow was bought in Farroukhnagar by Kailash, the trader, and then skinned on the open road is highly unlikely. The trader was interested in getting his consignment valued at about Rs 40,000 to the delivery destination, the two cousins were more keen to collect the payment and get back home, why should they suddenly buy a dead cow worth Rs 200 and then stop in the middle of the road to skin it, that too near a police chowki' Till today, the police do not have the name of the person who supposedly sold the dead cow to Kailash. If the cow was being skinned then why do the police not have the knife that was being used' All these issues require investigation.
3. It is possible that a vehicle standing near the chowki filled with animal skins attracted the attention of passersby. It were the Vishwa Hindu Parishad members and associated organizations who were directly involved in the spreading of rumours that a cow had been slaughtered and skinned on the open road by Muslims. The background is an ongoing “gou raksha” (cow protection) campaign in the area reminiscent of the one run by the notorious Dara Singh in Orissa, that is blatantly communal and directed against Muslims. The VHP was also directly involved in inciting mob violence as also in mobilizing their members to come to the chowki. They even tried to scratch out the name of a Muslim police officer on the board outside the chowki. The VHP members rang up the police and warned them not to release those who had killed cows. A telephone call also came from Delhi from someone claiming to be a shankaracharya to the police with a similar warning. The involvement of the VHP is further corroborated by the congratulatory procession organized by it the following day in Jhajjar in defence of the killings and demanding that no arrests should be made. It is also necessary to investigate whether there are any links between this killing of Dalits to the reported conversion to Islam of 33 Dalit families sometime in August in two villages in Mewat.
4. The numbers of those mobilized however requires further corroboration. It is possible that the police are exaggerating the numbers to justify their lack of action. The chowki is a very small one open from all sides and it would not be possible for a small police force to protect it in the face of aggression from a large mob. However, the police are unable to explain why they permitted the build-up for four hours and why they did not remove the Dalits from the station before the situation became as ugly as it did.
5. The most shocking and disturbing aspect is the complete lack of concern of the state government. Not a single minister has visited the site. No compensation has been announced for those so brutally killed.
6. It is very clear that the main concern of the police at present under orders from the government is to “defuse” the situation, a euphemism for not taking action against those involved since it would cause a law and order situation. Thus the new code being set is that the protection of law and order is not by arresting those guilty of a heinous murder, but by not arresting them and bowing before threats of communal criminals.
It is our conviction that there has been a complete suspension of the law of the land as far as this case is concerned. If there have been no arrests in spite of ample evidence of those guilty, it is because of the government's and the administration's soft approach towards the communalists as also because of the culpability of the police. We demand immediate arrest and prosecution for murder of all those guilty. A timebound Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the atrocity must be ordered.
The incident provides one more reason why the VHP with its highly provocative slogans and anti-national activities should be banned and its leaders arrested. Action should be taken against all those officials present who utterly failed in their duty to protect the innocent lives of the five Dalits. Compensation of Rs 5 lakh should be given to the families of those killed.