Bulandshahr violence: Local BJP youth wing leader arrested

The Uttar Pradesh Police on Thursday arrested a local BJP youth wing leader accused of instigating mob violence in Bulandshahr that killed a police inspector and a civilian last month.

Shikhar Agarwal alias Shekhar (25) had been on the run for nearly 40 days but was held at 7.20 am in adjoining Hapur district by the Bulandshahr policeAdditional Superintendent of Police (Bulandhshahr city) Atul Kumar Srivastava said, Agarwal was interrogated by police before being produced in a local court, which sent him to 14-day judicial custody. With his arrest, the number of accused held for the December 3 violence has reached 36, Srivastava said.

On December 3, 2018, mob violence had broken out in Siyana tehsil of Bulandshahr after cattle carcasses were found strewn in the fields outside Mahaw village. Police Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh (44) and Sumit Kumar (20) were shot dead during the violence, after which an FIR was registered at the Siyana police station in which around 80 people were accused.

Around six months ago, Agarwal was appointed the head of the newly-formed Siyana unit of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of the BJP, another police official said. While he was in hiding, a purported video of Agarwal had surfaced on social media in which he claimed innocence and also accused the slain inspector of "corruption" and "siding with the Muslim community to get our mother (referring to cows) attacked".

Agarwal, who claimed to be pursuing a Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) from Aligarh, said in the video that he had "full faith in the Yogi (Adityanath) government" in the state and he was ready for any probe. He also claimed that the inspector was reluctant to get an FIR filed for cow slaughter and had threatened to shoot him for insisting on taking the carcasses to the police station. In the video from an undisclosed location, he had alleged that police were "wrongly" saying that Singh was informed about the incident over phone, claiming the entire episode unfolded in his presence at the spot.

Twenty-seven people, including Agarwal, were named in the FIR, while 50 to 60 unidentified people were booked under different sections of the IPC.

On January 3, police had arrested local Bajrang Dal leader Yogesh Raj, also a key suspect in the case. A separate FIR was lodged by police for cow slaughter on a complaint by Raj. "Seven people have been arrested and jailed in connection with the separate cow slaughter case registered on the same day," ASP Srivastava said. Among the 36 people arrested for the violence are Army jawan Jeetender Malik, Prashant Nat, who allegedly shot the inspector dead, and Kalua who had first attacked him with an axe, police said.