The residents of Bisada village in Uttar Pradesh's Dadri said they would not be able to control "public anger" if the state does not book the family of Mohammad Akhlaq (spelt Ikhlaq by some publications) on charges of cow slaughter, the Indian Express reported. Akhlaq was lynched by a mob last September for allegedly slaughtering a cow and consuming its meat.
The demand was raised at a meeting of Bisada panchayat held on Monday. The meeting was called days after a forensic report from a Mathura lab said the meat recovered from Akhlaq's fridge was from a "cow or its progeny."
"The issue of cow is an issue of our faith. We are peace-loving and we believe in the justice system. However, in 20 days, the government should look at all alternatives and listen to our demands. Otherwise, the capacity to contain this public anger might not exist in my village," the IE quoted Sanjay Rana, a local BJP leader and father of one of the accused, as saying.
"If the administration does not pay heed to our demands and register a case of cow slaughter, we will be forced to take action," former village head Bagh Singh said.
They also demanded that the administration drop charges of murder against those booked for beating Akhlaq to death, according to Hindustan Times. Some others want the government to withdraw the compensation it gave to Akhlaq's family.
"We want police to register an FIR against Ikhlaq's family for slaughtering and eating a cow and change the sections of FIR against the accused from murder to culpable homicide not amounting to murder," HT quoted Rana as saying. "We have full faith in judiciary and the law. If our children are being tried as criminals, family of Ikhlaq should also be treated like one," Rana said.
A total of 50 people, including the family members of the 18 accused of killing Akhlaq and workers of the Shiv Sena's local group, attended the meeting even though the state administration had issued a prohibitory order.
Akhlaq was beaten to death on Sept. 28 by a mob after an announcement was done from a local temple that a cow was slaughtered in the village. The mob had alleged that Akhlaq and his family consumed beef.
The state administration collected samples of meat found in his fridge and sent it for examination. The chief of the Uttar Pradesh government's veterinary department in December confirmed that the meat was mutton, not beef.
However, the forensic report said the meat came from cow. Slaughter of cows in Uttar Pradesh is illegal. Akhlaq's family has said the report was "manipulated" and "politically motivated," according to another HT report.
"We feel the report is manipulated. We will seek the court's intervention. It should be probed thoroughly," Yusuf Saifi, the lawyer of the family, had said. "It seems the forensic report is politically motivated. The court will deliver justice," Akhlaq's brother Jaan Mohammad had said.