- 2 including cop killed in mob violence in Bulandshahr earlier this month
- Cow killers the real culprits: BJP leader Sanjay Sharma
- UP government accused of being more concerned about cattle than people
A day after 83 former bureaucrats demanded Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's resignation over the handling of the Bulandshahr issue, a BJP politician jumped to his defence with a remark that may once again bring the state government's priorities into question. "You are only seeing the deaths of Sumit and a police officer, not the death of 21 cows," Sanjay Sharma, the BJP MLA from Anupshahr, responded. "Please understand that the people who killed the cows were the real culprits. The actions of the mob stemmed from the killing of our gaumata."
Mr Adityanath's detractors have long accused his government of being more concerned about cattle than the people who voted him in. These allegations gained strength after the Chief Minister reportedly refrained from commenting on the human casualties in the Bulandshahr clashes, instead ordering a probe into the cattle carcasses found in the area. Days later, Uttar Pradesh Inspector General Ram Kumar reiterated that identifying the people who allegedly slaughtered the bovines was the "bigger question".
Clashes broke out in Bulandshahr on December 3, after right-wing activists reportedly found the carcasses of several bovines near the venue of an Islamic gathering. A police officer, Subodh Kumar Singh, and a protester, Sumit, were killed. Although police have arrested a number of people, the main accused -- including Bajrang Dal leader Yogesh Raj -- continue to be on the run.
Over two weeks later, more than 80 retired civil servants wrote an open letter demanding Mr Adityanath's resignation for "openly flaunting his bigotry" in the Bulandshahr violence. "Hooliganism and thuggery have been mainstreamed into governance. The Bulandshahr violence, which led to the cold-blooded murder of a police officer, marks the most dangerous turn yet in the direction taken by the politics of hate in recent times," the letter -- signed by diplomats such as former National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon and former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran -- said. It also accused PM Modi of maintaining a stony silence while Mr Adityanath "acts as a high priest of bigotry".
Mr Adityanath, however, maintains that his government should be "praised and thanked" for its handling of the issue.