Bajrang Dal leader Yogesh Raj, the main accused in the killing of a policeman during mob violence over alleged cow slaughter in UP's Bulandshahr on December 3, was arrested from Khurja on Thursday.
Raj had earlier released a video from hiding, claiming that he was not present at the site of violence and had nothing to do with the protests. He also alleged that the UP police were trying to portray him in bad light.
“Protests were being held in the street outside Siyana police station. My Bajrang Dal colleagues and I were sitting inside,” he said. In the video, the 28-year-old also confirmed that he is the district convener of the Bajrang Dal. “I was in my house on Monday morning and received a call that some villagers had found cow meat in sugarcane fields. After this, I went there and rushed straight to the police station,” he said in the video.
However, the arguments that Yogesh put forth in the video did not tally with the initial statement he gave to the Bulandshahr police. In his statement, Yogesh had stated that around 9 am on Monday, he and three of his friends had gone for a walk. In a forested area near Mahaw, a neighbouring village, they spotted seven people slaughtering cows, they said. Before they could raise an alarm, those people fled. He had said they were all residents of his village.
Another point of contradiction was Yogesh’s claim that he was sitting inside the police station when clashes erupted. Several videos have emerged to the contrary. He is seen and heard saying in one of the videos that he would keep blocking the road unless the police take action against those involved in the ‘cow slaughter’. In a few more videos that surfaced after the clash, he is also seen talking to police officials while the protest was on.
Bajrang Dal's western Uttar Pradesh region co-convenor Praveen Bhati also claimed that Raj had nothing to do with the violence. "He will cooperate with the police and come out at the right time," Bhati said. Raj has been booked for murder and attempt to murder under sections 302 and 307 of the Indian Penal Code, respectively, as well as various sections of arson and damaging public property.
Trouble in Bulandshahr started when carcasses of cows were found dumped in a forest area outside Mahaw village. "Activists of right-wing organisations soon gathered at the spot and alleged that people of a community were indulging in cow slaughter," ADG (Law and Order) said.
Angry villagers and members of various Hindu groups brought the animal remains in a tractor-trolley to the Chingarwathi Police Chowki and demanded action against the culprits. They raised slogans against the police administration and blocked the Bulandshahr-Garh State Highway.
Bulandshahr District Magistrate Anuj Kumar Jha, Sub-divisional Magistrate Avinash Kumar Maurya and other senior officials tried to reason with the protesters but they refused to budge. The protesters soon turned violent, pelting stones on policemen and indulging in arson.