This Republic Day saw an under-graduate student being killed by gunfire for asserting his right to carry the National Tricolour in his hand and chant “Vande Mataram” and ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai” on this auspicious national day. The incident took place not in terrorism-infested Kashmir Valley, but in Kasganj town of Uttar Pradesh.
The student, Abhishek Gupta, aka Chandan, and more popular by the latter name, was associated with an NGO “Sankalp Foundation”, engaged in a number of social service works, including organising voluntary blood donation camps and distribution of clothes, etc. to indigent families from time to time. The Foundation youths, fired with patriotic zeal, have been taking out Tiranga processions on the Independence Day and the Republic Day in the city for the last seven years. This has been quite a popular event in the city”s social life. Moving on a fixed traditional route, the youths carrying Tiranga in their hands astride motor-cycles and chanting the twin slogans of ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, filled every heart with nationalist fervour.
The Tiranga Yatra organised by Sankalp Foundation has been a peaceful affair for the last seven years. But ominous portents had been sensed by some of the organisers this year. And the same were conveyed to the high-ups in the local administration and the police by Twitter message, as the sources inform. The processionists expected some security from the police on the stretch of the route passing through Muslim-dominated areas. But unfortunately that was missing.
As about three hundred Tiranga bikers reached Baddu Nagar at around 10.30 am, they were stopped by local Muslims led, among others, by an advocate Mohammad Munazir known for his proximity with Samajwadi Party. He said a Republic Day flag-hoisting ceremony was to take place inside the locality and the bike-cavalcade would not be allowed. The whole thing, as turned out almost immediately, was a farce, a pretence to take cover for a patently anti-national act, that of preventing a National Flag procession to move ahead on its traditional route.
Soon, the Republic Day celebration ploy gave way to the real naked intention of Munazir and others. They asked the Tiranga youths to abjure the slogans of ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ before proceeding through Baddu Nagar. Some Muslim youngmen began shouting ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ meanwhile. And lo and behold, there began attacks on the Tiranga youths. Sharp stones and acid bottles were hurled in large number from inside Baddu Nagar. National Flags were snatched and trampled under feet. The Sankalp Foundation youths had to flee the scene many of them leaving behind their bikes which were consigned to flames by the local ruffians after of course making a loot of some parts etc. as sources tell.
It is a matter of deep investigation how the sharp stones, used by the railways on its rail tracks, were amassed in the locality. The stoning went on for quite some time, for an hour as the Hindi daily Dainik Jagran writes. And the large number of acid bottles? Who purchased and brought them to Baddu Nagar? Soon, there was melee all around. But the police was nowhere to be seen.
Chandan, with a Tiranga in his hand, along with some of his companions, later at about 11.30 AM passed through Tehsil Road near the Government Inter College. They were again stopped in this Muslim-dominated area. Now they were “ordered” to say ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ or otherwise face attack. Chandan instead roared “Pakistan Murdabad”, ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai” and ‘Vande Mataram’. Soon gun shots were fired on him from the roof of a nearby house, one bullet hitting him just below his left shoulder, piercing down to one of his kidney, as the post mortem later revealed. He ran for safety and reached the side of Kasganj Kotwali. The police seemed busy with Republic Day formalities inside. No immediate help was available. After being brought to a local hospital later, he succumbed to the fatal injury.
The news of Chandan”s death spread like wild fire. There were groups of agitated citizens, with ‘Vande Mataram’ on their lips, rushing to the hospital and Chandan”s home. This young man indeed had managed to earn love and admiration of Kasganj populace by his selfless service and his leadership qualities. The police now found their hands full to deal with a situation getting almost beyond control. This was mostly a result of their inaction. There were incidents of firing and cross-firing, attacks on innocent people, arson and loot. Had the police shown alacrity from the beginning of Baddu Nagar incident, not only the precious life of a public-spirited boy could have been saved, the city also could be saved from a violent aftermath.
The local police force, under the charge of an SP, Sunil Kumar Singh, posted here during the Akhilesh Government days, had always enjoyed political patronage under the previous regime. He was never known for efficiency, integrity or honesty. But was allowed to continue. And this actually now showed. For two days, Kasganj burned. The police failed to apprehend the main culprits. Salim, Waseem and Naseem, named in the FIR registered by Chandan”s father Sushil Gupta. The trio, together with Mohd. Munazir, are all said to be workers/supporters of the Samajwadi Party. The police, in the beginning rounded up Muslims and Hindus in equal numbers. Even innocent minor Hindu boys were arrested just to exhibit equality and “impartiality”! This is what was the practice during the Samajwadi Party regime.
Those who were present at Baddu Nagar, point out that the mob of miscreants bent upon not letting Tiranga Yatra pass through the locality, raised the slogans of “Rajveer Sahu Zindabad” besides “Pakistan Zindabad”. Rajveer is a SP leader and his wife Rajani Sahu is currently the chairperson of Kasganj Municipality. It is also said that two other SP leaders, Devendra Yadav (former MP of the SP) and his cohort Hari Om Sharma, were also encouraging and patronising the anti-Tiranga brigade.
The State Government had to remove SP Sunil Singh and formed Special Investigating Team (SIT) of the police to deal with five registered cases appertaining the violence. After the SIT swung into action on the fourth day, the actual anti-national elements indulging in violence began to feel heat. The Inspector General of the range Sanjeev Gupta himself led police forces to nab
culprits and make search operations inside Baddu Nagar and adjacent areas. All this has gone to assuage the Hindu feelings, and assure them of a return to an environment of security. A number of named
miscreants, including the alleged killer Saleem, have been arrested. A large haul of fire weapons has been recovered.