Cow slaughter rumours keep UP tense, 21 held
THE FALLOUT Another writer gives up award to protest ‘ assault on secularism’
MAINPURI/ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM/ GORAKHPUR: An uneasy calm prevailed in Uttar Pradesh’s Mainpuri district on Saturday as police arrested 21 people a day after a mob went on a rampage following rumours that a cow had been slaughtered, even as the growing communal tension saw another prominent writer give up her Sahitya Akademi Award to protest the “assault on secularism” by the ruling NDA government.
The violence in Mainpuri came against the backdrop of simmering tension in the state after the brutal killing of a 55-year-old Muslim blacksmith, Mohammad Ikhlaq, on suspicion of slaughtering a cow.
A mob burnt vehicles and shops on Friday after rumours that two butchers had been spotted slaughtering a cow spread like wildfire in the region. The men were attacked by villagers and police had to fire in the air to disperse protesters. Markets were shut and traffic was thin with people staying indoors as the local MP, senior superintendent of police and district magistrate attended a peace meeting by leaders of different faiths. The protesters alleged a cow graz--
ing in a field was taken away for slaughter and its skin was being removed in a house when some villagers barged in. A postmortem report later found the cow had died due to an ailment.
Ikhlaq’s killing has sparked widespread outrage and intensified a larger debate on the issue of the beef ban, besides stoking
fears of communal unrest in parts of the country. It has also drawn widespread condemnation from activists, with prominent writers, including Nayantara Sahgal and Ashol Vajapee, returning their awards in protest. On Saturday, eminent Malayalam novelist Sarah Joseph, who won the Sahitya Akademi Award for her novel ‘Aalahayude Penmakkal’ (Daughters of God the Father), said she would soon send back the cash prize and plaque to the Akademi through courier.
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Police patrol the streets of Karhal after villagers resorted to violence and arson over rumours of cow slaughter in the area.