The then Samajwadi Party government pressured me to change the meat sample seized from the crime scene in Akhlaq case, averred Subodh Kumar Singh. The shocking revelation was made by the slain police officer many months ago when the Cobrapost team had met him while investigating the spate of lynchings across the country in the name of cow protection. In this brief interaction, which took place in a Vrindavan police station, Singh made many revelations on how the state government, then headed by Akhilesh Yadav, worked overtime to manipulate the outcome of veterinary and FSL examinations.
It may be recalled that Akhalaq was lynched to death, and his younger son seriously injured, by a murderous mob consisting of villagers of his own village Bishara on the night of September 28, 2015, which broke into their house. Akhlaq was accused of killing a cow calf and consuming its meat. Singh was in-charge of the Jarcha Police Station then. Acting swiftly, the officer made 10 arrests while trying to keep the communal passions at bay in those days of frenzy. The lynching hit the headlines as various political parties tried to capitalize on the issue giving the murder and its cause their own spins, fitting it in us-versus-them narrative. Later on 18 arrests were made in the case. But within 40 days before the inquest was complete, the officer was shunted out to the wonderment of one and all. Actually, the Akhilesh government was working behind the scene to give the case a twist of its own by arm-twisting officials concerned. Singh did not buckle under the pressure that was put on him by the administrative machinery, hence his transfer.
In his interaction with Cobrapost, Singh made many more shocking revelations. Recalling how he was asked to “change the meat”, the officer observed, “Nahi pressure toh political pressure toh kuch nahi tha political toh yah tha ki iss meat ko jo jab Samajwadi Party waali sarkaar thi wo yah chahti thi hum logon ko aur doctor ko bhi dawaab banaaya gaya ki is meat ko change kar diya jaaye … (No, there was political pressure. The Samajwadi Party government wanted us [the police] and the [veterinary] doctor to be pressurized to change the meat).” Here, the officer is talking about the meat that his team had seized from the crime spot that fateful night.
Feigning to have not understood what he said, we asked him again what he was asked to do. “Meat ko change kar diya jaaye jo meat humne mauke se liya tha uski jageh meat plant kar diya jaaye …. Matlab buffalo ka humne toh mana kar diya ki hum nahi kar paayenge kyonki meat jo hai teen ek jo ghatnasthal se meat liya gaya tha uske teen jar bante hain ek thane mein rehta hai ek FSL chala jaata hai ek doctor ke paas chala jaata hai wo ja chuka tha agar hum change karte 201–218 ke mulzim hum banenge … issi wajeh se mera transfer bhi hua tha ([They] Wanted to get the meat changed. They wanted to plant the buffalo meat in place of the meat we had collected from the site of the incident. Actually, we had kept that meat in three jars. One was kept at the police station, the second was sent to the FSL and third was sent to the [veterinary’ doctor … for this reason I was transferred),” Singh told us in detail.
The law-keeper knew it well that the skewing evidence would tantamount to an offense could land him in serious trouble, for both Sections 201 and 218 hold causing of disappearance of evidence to screen an offender and framing of an incorrect record by a government functionary an offence which is punishable by a jail term anything between three and ten years.
After telling us the reason of his transfer, the officer made another revelation. He said, “Asliyat yah hai ki doctor se report change karai gai thi … buffalo doctor se ye main bata raha hoon (The truth is the doctor was forced to change the report … the buffalo doctor, I am telling you this).” Please explain it again, we did not get what you say, we told him. “Doctor ne bhi report dee thi ki gaay ka hee meat hai … pratham drishtya jo report dee jaati hai … wo report gaay ke meat kee hee di thi (The doctor had also said in his report it was cow meat … the report which is given prima facie … that report said it was cow meat),” observed Singh. You mean the doctor from Dadari Government Veterinary Hospital, we asked him. Yes, from Dadari, Singh said to reveal further, “Lekin doctor se report change karai gai maine change karne se manaa kar diya uski copy bhi mere paas hai (But the doctor was forced to change the report. I refused to change it. Its copy is still lying with me).” You mean original copy of the report, we asked. Confirming, Singh told us more, “Original copy jismein doctor ne likha hai ki … the meat of cow … report jo usne change kiya usase pehle mere paas bhej dee thee DM jo Nagendra Pratap Singh DM thei unhone report uthakar mujhe wapi karaa dee maine wo report wapas kar dee lekin maine photocopy karwa lee doctot ne likh kar de diya tha([Yes]Original copy where the vet doctor had written … the meat of cow … before changing the report he had sent me the same. Then DM Nagendra Pratap Singh gave me that report. I returned the report but I got it photocopied [before returning it]. The vet doctor had written it.”
All these clandestine manipulations were conducted in the darkness of night. “Raat ko hua ki yahan bhi change karaaya gayaa meat. Lekin maine change karne se manaa kar diya (The meat was changed here during the night. But I refused to change the meat),” Singh informed. Telling us who did what, the officer said, “Ek SDM, ek CO, doctor, FSL Mathura bhi aaye the unhone meat ko dene se mana kar diya tha .. our sub-inspector bhi aaya tha (One SDM, one CO, doctor from FSL Mathura had also come. They had refused to return the meat sample … one sub-inspector from our department had also come).” You mean the government wanted the meat to prove not of cow origin, we asked him. The officer said, “Haan gaay saabit na ho (Yes, it is not proved a cow).” Even then DGP had spoken to him on this issue, as Singh said, “Unko bhi pata tha, humse bhee poochha tha DGP sahib ne ki … tum ko kya laga prathm drishtya dekh ke khaal baraamad ho rahi bail kee khaal baraamad ho rahi hai safed … se barabar hota hai gaay ka hai yah meat. Teesre din change karwa rahe the 28 tareekh ke bajaye 31 tareekh (He too knew it. DGP sahib had also asked me … what you saw prima facie. We had seized the hide. Was it the hide of a bullock? White … makes it certain that this it cow meat only … they were asking me to change it on 31st after three days, instead of 28th).”
As these revelations make it clear, the upright officer stood his ground. It is really sad and shameful to see an officer like Singh to have been murdered in cold blood in broad-day light by a murderous lot of so-called gau-rakshaks who had the temerity to commit the ghastly act and shoot it on their mobile as well. The murder is a pointer to the failure of various state governments to rein in the menace that gau-rakshaks have become, despite the Supreme Court having directed them to do so. It also points to the lack of political will to tackle the menace.
It is shocking to know that the so-called secular government of the Samajwadi Party tried to manipulate an upright officer like Singh and punish him with a transfer when he refused to comply. Cobrapost also made a call to Nagendra Pratap Singh, then District Magistrate of Gautam Buddh Nagar, but he refused to speak on any issue related to the slain police officer.
These revelations were part of a hidden-camera investigation Cobrapost had launched into killings of innocent people by gau-rakshaks in the name of cow protection. It was during the course of this investigation that Cobrapost team had met Singh posing as researchers supposedly working on a film project. However, we could not take the investigation into cow vigilantism to its logical conclusion for unavoidable reasons. Our objective here is to bring to light a piece of truth of how the officer was punished for standing his ground. Hope, the government of the day initiates an inquiry into this episode and brings those authorities, who were involved in giving the Akhlaq murder case a false twist, to justice.
(The article first appeared on Cobrapost website and has been reproduced here with permission)