Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath visited Noida’s Bishada village to address a rally in favour of the sitting MP and BJP candidate, Mahesh Sharma. The striking feature of his rally in the village, which had shot to fame for the gruesome lynching of Mohammed Akhlaque in September 2015, was the privilege accorded to the 17 accused.
The prime accused in the murder of Akhlaq was one Vishal Rana, who is the son of local BJP leader Sanjay Rana. On Sunday, as Adityanath addressed the rally, Vishal and 16 other accused occupied the front row. The Hindu newspaper quoted Vishal Rana, who is out on bail along with others, as saying, “Nothing will happen now.”
Vishal Rana was accused of making an announcement from the local temple’s loudspeaker that Akhlaq had consumed and stored beef in his house. One of Akhlaq’s sons is working in the Indian Air Force.
In 2016, in a major twist in the Dadri lynching case, the police had said that a forensic report described the meat was beef or that of ‘a cow or its progeny.’ However, the report said that the sample in question had not been collected from Akhlaq’s house. An earlier forensic report had described the meat stored in Akhlaq’s fridge as mutton.
One accused, Ravi Sisodia had died of dengue while still in jail. His body was later brought to Bishada village draped in the Indian national flag. Among those who had visited his village to pay their last respect to Sisodia, an alleged murderer, was Union Minister Mahesh Sharma.
On Sunday, Adityanath made a desperate attempt to polarise voters along religious lines as he attacked AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra for evading a question by reporters on the issue of the Ayodhya controversy.
Uttar Pradesh goes to polls in seven phases with counting scheduled for 23 May.