Muslim man attacked by Hindu mob dies of injuries

28th Apr 2017


Sajeda Haider

Cow protection has taken the life of yet another Muslim man in  55 year old Pehlu Khan died from his injuries two days after being attacked by hundreds of Hindu vigilantes as he was transporting legally bought cows home.

Khan, his two sons and four other Muslim men from a village in the state of Haryana in northern India, had traveled to Jaipur, the capital of the western state of Rajasthan, to buy milch cows.

On April 1 they were returning home when their trucks were set upon on National Highway No 8 near Alwar in Rajasthan by “cow-protection” groups (gau rakshaks). The driver of Khan’s truck who was Hindu was allowed to run away, but the seven Muslim men were severely beaten up. Khan succumbed to his injuries in hospital a few days later.

Cows are considered sacred by Hindus and their slaughter is illegal in most states in India. The Hindu Nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which has been in power under Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, since 2014 has made it their mission to make cow slaughter illegal across India. Many of the BJP-ruled states in northern and western India have made their prevention of cow slaughter laws even more stringent with Gujarat, in western India from where Modi hails and where he ruled as chief minister for 12 years before becoming the prime minister, has made the crime punishable by a life term in prison.

The Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh, another BJP ruled the state in northern India, announced that he would hang anyone found killing a cow. While this is just rhetoric, the life term in Gujarat was passed as a law on March 31, 2017. Gujarat is considered the laboratory of the BJP and its far-right founding organisation Rashtriya Sewak Sangh (RSS), and it was here that 3,000 Muslim men, women and children were mercilessly killed by Hindu mobs under the watch of Modi as Chief Minister in 2002.

Khan is the 11th Muslim man to have been killed in the “cow-protection” related incidents across the country by vigilante groups in the last two years. Squads of vigilantes now roam highways inspecting livestock trucks for cows, and if they find any than an attack is definite, if they don’t then they take protection money from the truckers telling them they will file a case of suspected slaughter if they don’t pay up. The vigilantes are workers or supporters of the BJP and are emboldened by the lack of action against them by the police, government or the ruling parties.

Despite an uproar by Opposition parties the twitter-happy Prime Minister has not even condemned the cow-related killings, including Khan’s, let alone take action against the perpetrators.

Khan’s two sons, Irshad and Aarif, who were with their father on the trip, described how the vigilantes stopped their trucks, dragged them out and beat them with sticks and belts. By the time the police reached 30 minutes later they were all almost unconscious. Ironically the Rajasthan police have registered a case against Khan and his sons for illegally transporting cattle for slaughter  –  something that the vigilantes accused them of as they beat them. The complaint claims that Khan and others did not have a purchase receipt.

“I don’t know how a complaint was registered staying that we had no purchase receipt. I bought the cows for Rs 45,000,” said Irshad as he showed the media a receipt bearing the stamp of the Jaipur Municipal Corporation (local council) dated April 1, 2017. The five men were also robbed of their wallets and mobile phones. Irshad reportedly had about Rs 75,000 while another person lost about Rs 35,000.

As for the killers, for days the police claimed they didn’t know the identity despite a video of Khan being beaten going viral on the internet. It was only after the incident was raised in Parliament by the Opposition that three men were picked up by the police.

After the latest incident the RSS Chief, Mohan Bhagwat, rooted for a nation-wide ban on cow slaughter and called for using non-violent ways for “cow-protection”. Bhagwat’s focus appeared to be more on how to insulate the “cow-protection” movement from distracting controversies rather than safeguarding those vulnerable to vigilantes.

BJP-ruled states are also shutting down abattoirs particularly those used for the slaughter of buffalo, which until now is legal and is sold as beef in most parts of India. The BJP and RSS would like to see this banned too.

Khan was a dairy farmer and he had bought the milch cow hoping to increase his milk production for Ramadan – instead, he lost his life for doing nothing wrong.

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