Dadri Lynching: FIR Against Akhlaq’s Family a Conspiracy?

Exclusive: The Quint’s investigation into the cow slaughter FIR against Akhlaq’s family reveals a conspiracy. 

7 min read
Hindi Female

(This story was first published on 9 August, 2016 and is being republished from The Quint’s archives in the backdrop of a fast-track court on 25 March, 2021 starting the trial in the murder of Mohammad Akhlaq, five years after he was allegedly lynched by a mob over suspicion of storing beef in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri.)


The FIR against Akhlaq and his family for cow slaughter has raised several questions. This FIR was registered almost 10 months after Akhlaq’s murder. To find out more about the complainant and the witnesses mentioned in the FIR, The Quint revisited Bisada village in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri district. Our investigation reveals that the complainant did not witness the incident. He filed the FIR on the hearsay of 3 villagers.

Moreover, the eyewitness Prem Singh, who allegedly saw Akhlaq and his family slaughtering a calf, is the uncle of Sanjay Rana and the father of Vishal Rana, one of the accused arrested for Akhlaq’s murder. Not only this, Sanjay Rana – who claims to be a former BJP worker – has the upper hand, since he controls the witnesses and the complainant.


Who Is Sanjay Rana? What’s His Relationship With the Eyewitness?

Exclusive: The Quint’s investigation into the cow slaughter FIR against  Akhlaq’s family reveals a conspiracy. 
Sanjay Rana, the father of Vishal Rana, the accused arrested in Akhlaq’s murder case. (Spy Cam Image: The Quint)

The Quint in its earlier report mentioned Rana’s alleged personal grudge against Akhlaq and his involvement in the latter’s murder. So did Rana orchestrate this FIR against Akhlaq’s family with the help of his relatives/neighbours? Did he concoct a cow slaughter complaint to save his son from indictment?

Un haram ke baccho se puchho jinhone gau kaat kar humare gharo me pheki aur humari bhavna bhadkai. Akhlaq ko mara uss bhavna ne. (Ask those b**tards who threw the cow carcasses into our homes and provoked us; this provocation led to Akhlaq’s death).
Sanjay Singh Rana, Father of an Accused in Akhlaq’s murder

Unaware that he was being recorded on a spy cam, Rana spoke these inflammatory words about Akhlaq and his family in a public gathering at Bisada village while talking to The Quint. Rana showed no regret for his son’s involvement in Akhlaq’s murder case; instead, he defended him by claiming that the police has falsely implicated him. Through his provocative rhetoric, he tried to instigate the villagers.

Ek lath de do mere haath me aur Jaan Mhd (Akhlaq’s brother) mere samne kar do. Aapko aadhe ghante main pata chal jayega ki unhone kaise kata. Main adhe ghante main tumhare samne yeh kehwa dunga ki haan maine kata. (Give me a stick and Akhlaq’s brother (Jaan mhd). In half an hour, you’ll know how they slaughtered the cow. He’ll admit to the slaughter in front of you.) 
Sanjay Singh Rana

Displaying a lack of restraint, he abused Akhlaq and his family in the public gathering.

Sawal karo un behenc**d suaron se jin logon ne yeh gai kati hai (Ask those sister-f**king pigs who slaughtered the cow). 
Sanjay Singh Rana

The bifurcation between the Hindus and the Muslims of the village was very evident in the meeting. Rana also threatened communal tension in the village if Akhlaq’s family was not arrested in the cow slaughter case.

Unhe (police) Akhlaq ke parivar ko arrest karna padega. Agar unhone nahi kiya toh mujhe sirf apne quam ka avam karna hai. Wo turant arrest karenge (Police has to arrest Akhlaq’s family. If they don’t, all I have to do is gather my community members [for a protest]. Then they will be forced to make arrests.)
Sanjay Singh Rana

To delve further into the FIR, we decided to meet the complainant, Surajpal. We found that Surajpal was accessible to reporters only through Rana. Nonetheless, he agreed to assist us in the meeting.


Surajpal Filed His Complaint on Hearsay

Exclusive: The Quint’s investigation into the cow slaughter FIR against  Akhlaq’s family reveals a conspiracy. 
Surajpal, the complainant, on spy cam. (Spy Cam Image: The Quint)

70-year-old Surajpal has lived his whole life in Bisada village. After much hesitation, Surajpal told us that he saw nothing. He filed the complaint of cow slaughter with the police on hearsay. He told us that three villagers informed him about the incident.

Maine kuch nahi dekha. Mujhe toh Prem Singh, Jatin aur Ranvir ne sab bataya. Jab inhone mujhe bataya tab jaa kar maine FIR karwayi. (I didn’t see anything. I was told everything by Prem Singh, Jatin and Ranvir).
Surajpal, Complainant

In September last year, Akhlaq was killed in a mob lynching in Bisada village. But his younger son, Danish, survived despite severe injuries. The police arrested 19 people named by Danish and other family members in their statements.

Surajpal in his FIR, however, claims that all the accused arrested for Akhlaq’s murder are innocent. When we asked him to substantiate his statement, this is what he said:

Jee, wo saare bacche begunah hai, unhe galat pakada hai. (All those kids are innocent and have been wrongly imprisoned).
Surajpal, Complainant

Reporter: Agar unhone nahi mara toh phir kisne mara? (If they didn’t kill him, then who did?)

Akhlaq ko toh bheed ne mara hai. Ab me kaise pata chalega ki kisne mara? (Akhlaq was killed by a mob. How would I know who killed him?)
Surajpal, Complainant

When we prodded him further by asking how Danish could be wrong with respect to the names of the accused when he is the eyewitness in his father’s murder, Surajpal went silent.

Surajpal also told us that he went to the police station to file this complaint after Akhlaq’s murder. But no one heard him.


Eyewitness: Prem Singh, Grand Uncle of An Accused In Akhlaq’s Murder

Exclusive: The Quint’s investigation into the cow slaughter FIR against  Akhlaq’s family reveals a conspiracy. 
Prem Singh, the eyewitness (centre) who claims to have seen Akhlaq and his family killing a calf. (Spy Cam Image: The Quint)

After talking to Surajpal, we realised how crucial it was to speak to the eyewitness and other witnesses. We spoke to a few villagers about meeting Prem Singh. One of the villagers informed us that Prem Singh is the uncle of Sanjay Rana, who is the father of the accused in Akhlaq’s murder.

Prem Singh toh Sanjay Rana ke tau ya chacha lagte hai. (Prem Singh is Sanjay Rana’s uncle)
A Resident of Bisada village

After hunting for Singh for almost a week, we finally met him in a group of people that included Rana and Surajpal. Singh was very reluctant to speak to us and also accused the media of unnecessarily hyping Akhlaq’s murder. Moreover, people sitting with him tried to stop us from talking to Singh. But we managed to get answers to a few questions.

In the FIR, Surajpal had mentioned that Singh saw Akhlaq and his family slaughtering the calf. Hence, he is the only eyewitness to the crime.

Surajpal ne jo bhi FIR main kaha hai, wo sab sach hai. Unhone gau hatya 25 tareekh ko ki thi. (Whatever Surajpal has said in the FIR is true. They killed the calf on the 25th.)
Prem Singh, Eyewitness

Then why was Prem Singh quiet all these months? And why did he inform Surajpal about the crime instead of the police? Singh said that he would have been booked for Akhlaq’s murder had he approached the police earlier.

Agar hum pehle complaint karte toh abhi main jail me hota Akhlaq ke murder ke liye. (If I had gone to the cops, I would have been booked for Akhlaq’s murder.)
Prem Singh, Eyewitness

Neither Singh nor Rana admitted that they were related because they knew that this would raise several questions about the recent FIR.


We also spoke to the two other witnesses mentioned in the FIR. This is what Jatin Singh, who claimed that they saw Akhlaq taking the calf to his residence, said:

Exclusive: The Quint’s investigation into the cow slaughter FIR against  Akhlaq’s family reveals a conspiracy. 
Jatin Singh (left), the witness who claims that he saw Akhlaq with a calf. (Spy Cam Image: The Quint)

Reporter: Aapne kya dekha? (What did you see?)

Jatin: Humne toh une bachade ko le jate huye dekha. Humne poocha kahan le ja rahe ho. To usne bola ki aise hi ghoom raha hai yeh toh use pal lunga. Phir use kaat diya usne. (I saw him walking the calf and asked him where he was taking it. He replied that the calf was roaming around and he decided to look after it. But then he slaughtered the calf.)

Reporter: Aapne Akhlaq ko dekha le jate huye? (Did you see Akhlaq taking the calf?)

Jatin: Akhlaq le ja raha tha. Ab yeh nahi pata us din kaat use ya do din baad. (Akhlaq was taking the calf. I don’t know whether he slaughtered him that day or after a couple of days.)

The third witness, Ranvir, said that he saw Akhlaq throwing calf carcasses on the street.

Exclusive: The Quint’s investigation into the cow slaughter FIR against  Akhlaq’s family reveals a conspiracy. 
Ranvir, the witness who claims he saw Akhlaq throwing white hide in a black poly bag. (Spy Cam Image: The Quint)

Reporter: Kya aap ghatna ke samay mojud the? (Were you present at the crime scene?)

Ranvir: Kali panni me kuch phekte huye dekha Akhlaq ko. (I saw Akhlaq throwing something away in a black poly bag.)

Reporter: Kab dekha? (When did you see this?)

Ranvir: Lag bhag 8 baje 28 sept ko. (At approximately 8 o’ clock on 28 September.)

Reporter: Kaha phekte dekha? (Where did you see him throwing it?)

Ranvir: Transformer ke pass... uske andar safed khaal thi. (Near the transformer... it had a white carcass inside.)

Reporter: Aapko kaise pata ki wo bachade ki hi thi?  (How do you know the carcass was that of a calf?)

Ranvir: Yeh hume nahi pata, hume toh yeh pata hai ki wo safed pashu ki khal hai, baki toh lab batayega (That I don’t know. I only know that the carcass belonged to a white animal. The rest will be determined by the lab.)

Reporter: Phir aapne kya kiya? (What did you do next?)

Ranvir: Phir kya, hum chale gaye apne ghar. (What else, I went home.)

Despite rigorous effort, we were prevented from meeting any of the witnesses in isolation from the others. None of the witnesses provided us with any concrete evidence to support their testimony.

The question remains: Will this FIR further victimise Akhlaq’s family?

Will UP police conduct a fair investigation and reveal the truth, or play into the hands of people with vested interests?

Will Bisada village become the epicentre of communal tensions in the upcoming UP assembly elections?

Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

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