The Allahabad High Court today granted bail to one of the main accused in the Bulandshahr mob violence case, which led to the death of a police officer in Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshahr last December. Yogesh Raj, a local leader of the Bajrang Dal, was among those accused of inciting a mob of over 400 people to kill Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh during clashes over cattle carcasses found in Mahav village.
Incidentally, seven other accused -- including former BJP Yuva Morcha worker Shikhar Agarwal -- had received a rousing welcome from right-wing activists when they were released on bail last month. In photographs and videos that were circulated widely on social media, ecstatic supporters were seen garlanding the accused and taking selfies with them. The state government brushed off all criticism, asking the opposition to not "make a mountain out of a molehill".
Violence had broken out at Bulandshahr's Mahav village on December 3 after a group of right-wing activists allegedly chanced upon cattle carcasses. A mob of 400 people went on the rampage -- throwing stones, setting vehicles afire and firing at police personnel. Besides Inspector Singh, a protester was also killed in the clashes.
Yogesh Raj was arrested on January 3, exactly a month later. In the following months, he featured prominently in several posters and billboards that cropped up across the state. Certain billboards put up by the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad even had him "wishing" the people on the occasion of Makar Sankranti.
In March, an Uttar Pradesh court dropped sedition charges filed against 38 people accused in the mob killing case and directed that they be instead charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including murder, attempted murder, criminal conspiracy, rioting and arson.
Yogesh Raj was able to avoid arrest and even put out videos from hiding, which led to allegations that the Uttar Pradesh police was going soft on him. Over 80 retired civil servants accused the state government of trying to scuttle the probe in an open letter, claiming that the ruling BJP had "failed to safeguard the fundamental principles of governance, constitutional ethics and humane social conduct".