Cow slaugh­ter ru­mours keep UP tense, 21 held

THE FALL­OUT Another writer gives up award to protest ‘ as­sault on sec­u­lar­ism’

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - HT Cor­re­spon­dents letters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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.

CON­TIN­UED ON P6

PTI PHOTO

Po­lice pa­trol the streets of Karhal af­ter vil­lagers re­sorted to vi­o­lence and ar­son over ru­mours of cow slaugh­ter in the area.

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