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India: 2 killed, incl 13-year-old in suspected anti-Muslim hate crime

20th Mar 2016
India: 2 killed, incl 13-year-old in suspected anti-Muslim hate crime

By Zahid Rafiq

 

SRINAGAR, Jammu Kashmir (AA) – Two Muslim cattle-herders, including a 13-year-old boy, were reportedly hanged to death in the Lateher district of India’s eastern Jharkhand State in an attack some believe may have been religiously motivated.

While police say they are investigating the case, local residents believe the two were killed by Hindu fundamentalists who have carried out attacks on Muslims — who they accuse of eating beef and slaughtering cows, which are sacred in Hindu-majority India — since the arrival to power in India of a rightwing Hindu government.

According to local police, the bodies of 32-year-old Mazlum Ansari and 13-year-old Azad Khan were both found hanging from a tree on Friday.

Ansari and Khan had both left home Friday morning — with about a dozen heads of cattle in tow — for an annual cattle fair in the neighboring Chatra district.

“The two bodies were found hanging from a tree, their faces wrapped in towels,” local residents told reporters.

“The manner of the hanging showed the killers were motivated by extreme hatred,” Latehar Police Superintendent Anoop Birthary told the press.

Five suspects were arrested on Saturday, including a person associated with a local cow protection vigilante group.

The police identified the arrested as Mithilesh Prasad Sahu alias Bunty, Pramod Kumar Sahu, Manoj Kumar Sahu, Awadhesh Sahu and Manoj Sahu. Efforts are under way to nab three others also said to be involved in the murders. The death sparked protests in the area on Friday.

In 2005, the BJP government under Chief Minister Arjun Munda had brought in an ordinance for the prevention of the cow slaughter in Jharkhand which, later, became an act, imposing a Rs 5,000 penalty and imprisonment of upto five years or both for offenders.

According to residents and police, the same area saw clashes between Hindus and Muslims earlier this year over the issue of beef consumption.

In a related incident last September, a Muslim man from the northern state of Uttar Pradesh was lynched by Hindu fundamentalists amid rumors that he had eaten beef in his home.

Subsequent forensic reports, however, revealed that he had not eaten any beef prior to his demise.

And earlier this week, four Kashmiri students at a University in Rajasthan were beaten up by Hindu mobs — and later arrested by police — amid rumors they had prepared and eaten beef in their dormitory room.

They were later released, however, after tests showed the meat they had consumed was not in fact beef.

A number of prominent observers in India have recently pointed to these incidents — and others like them — as proof of mounting religious “intolerance” in India.
[Photo: Creative Commons/India]

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