Dadri/Lucknow: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today came under strindent opposition attack for his silence on the lynching of a man over suspected beef consumption, with leaders contending he should have at least condemned it through his usual tweets as tension simmered in the village on Delhi's outskirts.
AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi, who visited Bishada village near Dadri in Uttar Pradesh, the scene of the crime which has outraged the nation, to console Mohammed Iqlakh's family, questioned Modi's silence on the "pre-planned murder".
"We had expected that the least the Prime Minister, who talks of 'sabka saath-sabka vikas' (inclusivity)', would tweet to condole Iqlakh's murder.
"Yesterday, he had tweeted to condole famous singer Asha Bhosale's son's death.
The 'sabka saath-sabka vikas PM' should have at least sent his condolences in a tweet if he believes in pluralism and upholding of law," the controversial Hyderabad MP, known for his sharp tongue, said.
Mamata Banerjee's TMC also assailed Modi for keeping quiet after the Monday night killing of Iqlakh by a rampaging mob of 200 people, which dragged him out of his home to the street and stoned him to death over allegations of cow slaughter and beef eating.
TMC MP Sultan Ahmed demanded that Modi make a statement on communal incidents in the country in order to stop RSS and other outfits from "disrupting" communal harmony.
"We want to know why is Narendra Modi silent on the recent killing of a person only over rumours of consuming beef. This is nothing but spreading communal poison in the society and disrupting the fabric of the country," TMC MP Sultan Ahmed told PTI in Kolkata.
"Modi keeps on speaking about each and every issue. But he stays mum on various communal incidents. He should speak up in order to stop RSS, VHP from destroying communal peace."
Congress also demanded that the Prime Minister speak up and condemn the attack.
"The Prime Minister tweets on every issue, but has not said a word about the incident. He should break his silence and condemn the incident", party spokesman R P N Singh said.
CPI general secretary S Sudhakar Reddy said his party is surprised at Modi's "silence" on such "irrational and intolerant" killing of innocent people.
Amid rising political temperature over the incident that has sent shock waves through the country, Bishada continued its uncomfortable tryst with media spotlight, while remaining under the protective shadow of the gun.
Contingents of Provincial Armed Constabulary and state police were strategically deployed across the village where prohibitory orders banning assembly of five or more people continued to be in force.
District Magistrate M P Singh claimed the situation was under control and reasoned that the incident should be treated as a "solitary case" and not a communal clash as no other Muslim family was affected.
Owaisi rubbished claims that Iqlakh's family was attacked because of rumours that it had eaten beef and alleged he was done to death because of his religious persuasion.
"This attack was not because of meat. The SP government, instead of arresting the murderers, is getting a forensic test done on the meat found at the victim's home.
Their mind, which is full of poison, should be examined first. They are treating the victim as accused," he said.
Mahesh Sharma, the local BJP MP, who visited the bereaved family, persisted with his refrain that the killing was an "accident" which should not be given a communal colour and over which no politics should be done as it may prove to be "dangerous".
"It is a blot on our culture and such incidents do not have a place in a civilised society. If somebody says it was pre-planned, I don't agree with it. It is an accident and it should be probed by CBI or state and guilty should be punished.
Innocents should not be victimised in the name of investigation," Sharma, also Minister of State for Tourism and Culture said.
Chiding Sharma for calling Iqlakh's killing an accident, Owaisi said,"Mahesh Sharma is the Culture Minister of the country and it is unfortunate that the minister who has taken oath on the Constitution doesn't have the courage and intellectual honesty to condemn the incident unconditionally."
Miles away in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav trained his gun on Modi over a string of contoversies over cow slaughter and beef consumption.
"They want to rake up such issues. These forces talked about pink revolution. We say today you are in power, so ban beef exports. You should build support for banning its export," he said in an apparent reference to Modi, who had in the run-up to last Lok Sabha elections attacked the then UPA government over meat exports, saying it was encouraging "pink revolution".
As Akhilesh Yadav dared the central government to ban beef exports, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said such exports including of cow and calf meat are already prohibited.
"Only boneless meat of buffalo, male & female (NOT beef) & meat of goat & sheep is permitted to be exported, subject to provisions specified in Gazette Notifications on raw meat," Sitharaman, Union Commerce Minister said in her tweets.
Shivpal Yadav, Samajwadi Party leader and younger brother of its chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, demanded dismissal of Sharma from the Union ministry.
"Mahesh Sharma should be immediately sacked from the Union Cabinet for his statement on Dadri lynching. The PM should also swing into action and give strict directions to prevent such planned incidents," Shivpal, a senior UP minister, told reporters in Lucknow.
"Communal forces - BJP, RSS and Shiv Sena - are trying to vitiate communal atmosphere of the state. They have orchestrated such incidents in the past and are trying to do it again. We are alert, but they do communal politics and have succeeded in their designs sometimes," he said.