Lynching of Muslims Sparks Anger in India

Akash Vashishtha
2016.03.21
New Delhi
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160321-IN-muslim-beef-620.jpg A local walks cattle through floodwater in Mayong, a village in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, June 11, 2015.
AFP

The lynching of two Muslim cattle traders, including a teenager, in eastern India last week has outraged minority groups, with critics yet again accusing the country’s ruling Hindu nationalist party of perpetrating intolerance.

Congress, India’s main opposition party, on Monday launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for “allowing such atrocities” on members of minority groups.

“Our party’s stand on this is very clear. Something as atrocious as this deserves to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. The perpetrators must be brought to book immediately,” Congress spokesman Manish Tewari told BenarNews.

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Sunday sent a letter to Modi to highlight a growing number of attacks on Muslims, India’s largest religious minority who make up about 13 percent of the nation’s 1.25 billion people.

The badly bruised bodies of Mazlum Ansari, 35, and Imteyaz Khan, 13, were found hanged from a tree in the Latehar district of Jharkhand on Friday. Ansari and Khan were attacked as they traveled to a cattle fair.

Although it appears that robbery was the motive for the double murder, a religious angle has not yet been ruled out, police said.

District Superintendent of Police Anup Birthare said five suspects had been arrested, adding that one of the accused was associated with a cow welfare group.

Police are searching for three more suspects, Birthare told reporters.

‘Nothing but a farce’

The slaughter of cows – which are considered holy in Hindu culture – and beef consumption are banned in most states of officially secular India, including Jharkhand.

Last September, a Muslim man and his son were attacked by a 1000-strong mob in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh state over rumors that they had slaughtered a cow and eaten beef.

Mohammad Akhlaq, 55, was killed while his son, Danish, 22, was seriously injured in the assault.

The incident triggered widespread protests against the BJP for perpetrating intolerance in the country.

“Modi’s intent is quite clear. Muslims are living in fear since BJP came to power in May 2014,” minorities’ welfare activist Shakir Ali told BenarNews, referring to the latest attack on members of the minority group.

“The government’s talks of secularism and unity are nothing but a farce,” Ali added.

Attempts to reach BJP officials for comment were unsuccessful Monday, but a leader of the party in Jharkhand earlier condemned the killings of the two cattle traders.

“This is an unfortunate incident,” Ashok Kumar of the BJP told Reuters. “Our government will take strong action against the culprits.”

Sense of insecurity spreading

Religious and spiritual leaders also hit out at the government, venting an overflowing resentment among the country’s Muslims.

“The suppression, which was, so far, understood by the urban Muslims and those residing abroad, is now being felt by the relatively more emotional rural Muslim, who has always treated Hindus as his brother. A strong sense of insecurity is spreading among Muslims,” Maulana Syed Kalbe Rushaid Rizvi of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), told BenarNews.

And even as Muslim groups claimed oppression by the ruling establishment in the name of protecting cows, animal welfare activists asserted that the issue was much more than a religious one.

Anuradha Modi of the Holy Cow Foundation, observed, “Such incidents arise more as a result of weak state administrations failing to enforce the anti-cow slaughter laws. In such circumstances, people take the law in their own hands and commit such incidents. Most Indian states have cow slaughter laws in place.”

“The constitution of India itself assigns the state to take steps for prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle. Despite laws on cruelty, a particular community is causing utter cruelty to cows,” she told BenarNews.

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