Bruised and battered 84-year-old Asghari Begum sustained her injuries trying to pry her son Mohammed Akhlaq away from a Hindu mob who beat him to death using bricks and sticks after they wrongfully thought he killed and ate a cow (Photo by K Asif/India Today Group/Getty Images)
Elham Asaad Buaras
The brother of the Muslim man brutally beaten to death by an angry Hindu mob in India for allegedly eating beef has spoken of the family’s utter devastation and confusion at the ordeal, saying they have been left in a state of “comatose” since the murder.
Jaan Mohammed also accused Hindu nationalist Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who will be coming to the UK next month, of failing to reign in his Bharatiya Jaanata Party (BJP) hardliners and other right-wing groups. Violence by Hindu fringe groups has increased since Modi came to power last year.
In an emotional interview with The Muslim News Jaan Mohammed described in harrowing detail how his older brother Mohammad Akhlaq was brutally beaten to death with bricks in their village near New Delhi in the late hours of Monday September 28, after false rumours circulated that his family had killed and eaten a cow.
According to the police, on the day of the attack, someone in the village of Dadri in the state of Uttar Pradesh used the local temple’s loudspeakers to broadcast the news that the remains of a calf were found outside Bishara and that its meat had been eaten.
Soon after his broadcast, villagers crowded around the temple compound, and decided to set out for Akhlaq’s home through the winding, narrow and broken lanes. They believed the blacksmith was the culprit because his faith doesn’t prohibit eating beef. And his was one of the two Muslim households in that neighborhood of more than 6,000 people.
Akhlaq and his 22-year-old son Mohammed Danish were hauled from their home and set upon by around 100 people, many of whom, according to media reports, belonged to a local BJP leader’s family.
The 50-year-old was eventually pulled from the clutches of the baying gang alive, but later died in hospital of his injuries. Danish was also seriously injured in the attack, sustaining numerous head injuries and remains in intensive care.
“My nephew is still in ICU. We transferred him to the military hospital 3 days ago [October 13]. By God’s grace he is now able to recognise us and speak a little bit…but while talking his memory falters, he keeps switching topics,” said Jaan Mohammed.
Akhlaq’s elderly mother Asghari Begum was also hospitalised, the 82-year old was repeatedly punched as she tried to save her son and grandson from the mob. Photos of bruised face went viral but Jaan Mohammed said she had sustained injuries and bruises throughout her body.
Akhlaq’s daughter Sajida later revealed the family had goat in the fridge and not beef. “They accused us of keeping cow meat, broke down our doors and started beating my father and brother. My father was dragged outside and beaten with bricks,” she said.
Both the preliminary and conclusive laboratory tests on the meat confirm the meat found in the family’s fridge immediately after the attack was of goat and mutton.
Jaan Mohammed said the use of loud speakers outside the temple to gather the mob is proof that the attack was orchestrated. “They said the cow was slaughtered and kept on the road but there’s no photo, no evidence of blood or any cow remains [on the spot where the cow was said to have been slaughtered.”
“When our team reached the spot a crowd was there outside his house,” said senior police Superintendent Kiran, “They (police) managed to rescue him and take him to hospital but his life could not be saved. We have arrested six people and deployed additional personnel to contain any further repercussions.”
Killing cows is banned in many states of India, a majority-Hindu country that also has sizeable Muslim, Christian and Buddhist minorities.
In most of India, most of the time, killing cows is illegal, but possessing or eating beef is not. In March, the state of Maharashtra toughened its ban to make even possessing beef illegal, a move seen by religious minorities as a sign of the growing power of hardline Hindus since Modi came to power.
Jaan Mohammed asked why, as “highest leader of the country Modi cannot control the tongues of his leaders? … why doesn’t he stop those who are spreading hatred in the country, those who are making Hindus and Muslims fight?”
He asked why his brother was killed for allegedly killing and eating a cow when India is the “second largest supplier of beef in the world”.
Deerat Singh, whose two sons have been arrested for the attack, said, “I think someone saw a Muslim lady carrying meat in a bag. No one is sure what was inside it. Anyway, about a thousand people heard the announcement and went to the home [of the Akhlaqs].”
“They saw a trail of blood on the ground. Then 60 or 70 people entered the house and pulled him from his bed and beat him to death.”
Police also revealed Akhlaq made a frantic telephone call to his Hindu childhood friend pleading for help. Akhlaq called Manoj Sisodia for help minutes before the angry mob beat him to death.
Records show that he called his friend Sisodia around 10:30 pm said the Police. “It was late in the night and I was going to sleep. Suddenly my phone rang and it was Akhlaq. He sounded frantic. He told me: “Manoj, we are in danger. Call up the police and ask them to send a force. ” Those were his last words to me,” said Sisodia.
Jaan Mohammed is unsurprised by the revelation. He said the older generation still had a sense of “brotherhood” between all Indians but says that younger Hindus have been brainwashed into hating by right-wing nationalist groups in recent years.
Modi has been slammed for failing to condemn the brutal murder. His MPs have also been accused of failing to adequately address the murder.
Senior BJP MP, Tarun Vijay, was ridiculed and slammed for implying that lynching a person could possibly be condoned when you are sure that he has consumed beef. “Lynching a person merely on suspicion is absolutely wrong, the antithesis of all that India stands for and all that Hinduism preaches,” he wrote in the Indian Express. Outraged columnist Pratap Bhanu Mehta said, “Vijay has accomplished the astonishing feat of even making apology look almost homicidal,” adding that the “blame for this has to fall entirely on Modi”.
Modi’s silence was also criticsed by India’s Congress Party Spokesman, Abhishek Singhvi. “The silence at the top, the silence from India’s greatest orator who can have an effect or a counter effect on such despicable tendencies, that silence is absolutely stunning,” he said.
Singhvi said the incident would certainly leave a blot on Modi’s recent US trip since it occurred a few miles away from the national capital. “All this great talk about India optics, Digital India, [Mark] Zuckerberg, Google, FDI, Facebook, all this gets nullified when the world reads about this lynching,” said Singhvi.
Hate campaigns by Hindu groups have created a climate of violence, he said. “The question is why this climate is growing so innumerably, immeasurably in less than 15 months [since the BJP came to power].”
Six people have been arrested in connection with the death of Mohammad Akhlaq.
However, the attack on Mohammad Akhlaq is not an isolated incident. Two other Indian Muslims have been killed in relation to the allegation of consumption of beef this year. A mob of suspected members of the extremist Hindu group Bajrang Dal killed a Muslim man for allegedly smuggling cattle from India’s Himachal Pradesh earlier this month.
And on the evening of October 9 Hindu mob petrol bombed a Kashmir-bound truck fatally injuring 18 year-old Kashmiri Zahid Rasool Bhat, after rumours had spread that three cows were slaughtered.
Additional reporting Altaf Nathani