UP Sadhu Murders: Why Police is Now Revealing the Faith of Culprits

Social Commentary

UP Sadhu Murders: Why Police is Now Revealing the Faith of Culprits

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

Even though the nationwide lockdown over coronavirus has seen most businesses and industries across India come to a grinding halt, the business of crime, unfortunately, seems to be continuing across the country. From online crimes like consuming pornography involving minors to physical ones like domestic violence, lynchings, and murders, there is an unfortunate abundance of horrifying stories in the news. The latest addition to this list is the murder of two sadhus in Uttar Pradesh’s village of Bulandshahr. The bodies of the two sadhus were found in the temple complex by villagers on the morning of April 28.

The case has some similarities with a lynching that occurred in Maharashtra earlier in April, where two sadhus were lynched by a mob of over 100 people, and the similarities go beyond the identities of the victims as men of religion.

In both cases, Palghar and Bulandshahr, the police had to reveal the identities of the accused and specify that the victims and killers belonged to the same community. This was done with the view to maintain communal harmony and not allowing the issue to become coloured along religious lines with the spread of fake news. In a report published by The Quint, Bulandshahr SSP Santosh Kumar Singh clarifies the police’s stand on the matter, saying, “These days the media often misrepresents news by giving it a false communal colour and motive. The reason I had to mention the caste is to highlight that the accused and victims belong to the same community (Hindus).”

Even though the nationwide lockdown has brought India to a grinding halt, the business of crime, unfortunately, seems to be continuing.

This reasoning follows in the steps of the actions of the Mumbai Police, who also had to release a list of all 101 accused in the lynching case to prove that there were no Muslims in the mob that murdered the Hindu sadhus – a measure taken to prevent the conflagration of communal tension.

Another similarity between the murders in Palghar or Bulandshahr was that neither case had anything to do with religion. In Palghar, the mob was whipped into a fury by rumours that the two sadhus and their driver were in fact thieves. In Bulandshahr, the killer allegedly attacked the sadhus after they had a prior altercation over the killer stealing from the sadhus. Despite these facts, police have had their work made even harder by having to avoid triggering communal sentiments in the wake of such incidents. For the police, apprehending murderers is a difficult enough job by itself; having to pacify communal trolls should not be necessary. But sadly, it is.