In­dia ar­rests 8 for al­legedly killing Mus­lim over beef ru­mor


In­dian po­lice ar­rested eight peo­ple and were search­ing Wed­nes­day for two more af­ter vil­lagers al­legedly beat a Mus­lim farmer to death and se­verely in­jured his son upon hear­ing ru­mors that the fam­ily was eat­ing beef — a taboo for many among In­dia’s ma­jor­ity Hindu pop­u­la­tion.

The mob of about 60 Hin­dus be­came in­censed when a tem­ple an­nounced that the fam­ily had been slaugh­ter­ing cows and stor­ing the beef in their house in Bis­ara, a vil­lage about 45 kilo­me­ters (25 miles) south­east of the In­dian cap­i­tal of New Delhi, Dis­trict Mag­is­trate Na­gen­dra Pratap Singh said.

He said the mob dragged 52-year-old Mo­ham­mad Akhlaq and his son from their home Mon­day night and beat them with sticks and bricks. Akhlaq was de­clared dead at a nearby hos­pi­tal, while his son was be­ing treated for se­ri­ous in­juries.

Since Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, a Hindu na­tion­al­ist, took of­fice last year, hard-line Hin­dus have been de­mand­ing that In­dia ban beef sales — a key in­dus­try for many within In­dia’s poor, mi­nor­ity Mus­lim com­mu­nity. In many In­dian states, the slaugh­ter­ing of cows and selling of beef are ei­ther re­stricted or banned.

For Hin­dus, cows are wor­shipped as sa­cred, and many of the an­i­mals are of­ten seen wan­der­ing unchecked around big city neigh­bor­hoods and on highways dur­ing rush hour.

Ten­sions had been build­ing in the vil­lage, where nearly 40 per­cent of the 1,500 res­i­dents are Mus­lim, af­ter some Hin­dus com­plained that their cows and buf­faloes were go­ing miss­ing, Singh said.

When po­lice ar­rested the sus­pects on Tues­day, a group of protesters at­tacked the of­fi­cers and their ve­hi­cles, forc­ing po­lice to open fire, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal news­pa­pers in­clud­ing the In­dian Ex­press. One 20-year-old man was re­port­edly in­jured, the pa­per said, with­out elab­o­rat­ing.

The eight sus­pects in cus­tody were charged with mur­der and ri­ot­ing, Singh said. Po­lice are search­ing for two more sus­pects in the area.

Mean­while, po­lice said they have sent sam­ples of meat taken from Akhlaq’s home to a lab­o­ra­tory to de­ter­mine whether the meat is from a goat or a cow. The In­dian Ex­press quoted Akhlaq’s daugh­ter, Sa­jida, as say­ing that the fam­ily had mut­ton in the re­frig­er­a­tor, and not beef.

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