The Uttar Pradesh Police on Sunday confirmed that the armyman Jitendra Malik, also known as Jitu fauji, had been formally arrested in connection with the Bulandshahr violence that killed police officer Subodh Kumar Singh last Monday. He was later sent to 14 day judicial custody by a local court.
Malik was posted in Spore in Jammu and Kashmir and was visiting his home on a 15-day leave when the Hindutva militants caused a large-scale violence in Bulandshahr, killing Singh. One protester too was dead. Malik had fled to Sopore after the news of Singh’s murder spread. A special task force of the Uttar Pradesh Police had travelled to Sopore to catch him. The Indian Army handed Malik over to the UP Police task force, which brought the man to Uttar Pradesh on Saturday night.
He was formally arrested around midnight. Confirming the news Anand Kumar, the ADG, Law and Order, of the UP Police, said that Malik was fomenting crowd on the fateful day. He told NDTV, “His (Jitendra Malik) presence has been established at the site where the incident has taken place. You can clearly see him fomenting trouble and instigating the crowd. And also, he’s trying to foment trouble. Therefore, we will ascertain his culpability as per his role. As of now, we have some kind of inkling, some kind of evidence by bystanders and people who were there that this man had something to do with the violence there.”
Kumar also said that several questions remained unanswered and the STF team will grill the army soldier to find answers. He said, “Why is an armyman there? Why’s he instigating? He’s supposed to be upholding the highest tradition of (inaudible). What’s his role there? What is he doing there, shouting slogans?”
The gruesome murder of Singh had stunned members of civil society in India particularly after a video emerged indicating the role of Hindutva supporters in slaughtering the cow and bringing carcasses to the site of the protest to inflame passion. The Uttar Pradesh Police, had later asked the journalist, who posted the video on Twitter, to share the unedited version of the video with them.
Police are also on the lookout for one Yogesh Raj, a leader of Hindutva armed group Bajrang Dal and also a key accused. Immediately after the violence, the cops had arrested five people from Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Hindu Yuva Vahini, a militant group founded by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
The Shiv Sena had later launched a blistering attack on the BJP by questioning its role in the Bulandshahr violence that left one police officer killed and another protestor dead. An editorial published in its mouthpiece Saamana, the BJP’s ally had said, “Was the Bulandshahr incident orchestrated like the Muzaffarnagar incident before the 2014 polls? The BJP knows that the 2019 elections will not be easy for it. Therefore, has it used its weapon of religious polarisation?”