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India

Cow vigilantes attack Muslim driver in India

Christian lay leader calls on police to take quick action against mobs after Haryana assault

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Cow vigilantes attack Muslim driver in India

Protesters assembled near the Jharkhand Bhavan in New Delhi on April 15, 2019, condemn a mob lynching in Jharkhand state. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/UCA News)

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Cow protection laws in the northern Indian state of Haryana could not deter vigilantes from attacking a Muslim man suspected of transporting beef on the eve of Eid.

Luqman Khan, 25, who survived the attack by Hindutva cow vigilantes on July 31, told NDTV that police and people watched without intervening as he was attacked with a hammer.

“It is really painful and saddening to see these kinds of horrendous acts of mobocracy still continuing even after a slew of directions to the government from the Supreme Court bench in a country that boasts about having the largest democracy and impartial justice delivery system in the world,” A.C. Michael, national coordinator of the United Christian Forum, told UCA News.

“The police and local administration must take quick action against anyone who involves themselves in mob violence. It is worrying to observe that no political party is taking a strong position against such acts of violence.”

Media reports said the Haryana vigilantes chased a truck for about 8 kilometers and managed to flag it down on July 31 morning. Driver Khan was pulled out and brutally attacked on suspicion of smuggling cow meat.

“I begged and told them this was not cow meat but the vigilantes kept forcing me to chant ‘Jai Shree Ram’ (Hail Lord Ram),” said Khan, who sustained fractures in the assault.

NDTV reported that the vehicle owner said it was buffalo meat and he had been in the business for more than 50 years.

Pritpal Singh, Gurgaon's additional commissioner of police, said on Aug. 1 that police had arrested one person and sent the meat for laboratory testing.

Manohar Lal Khattar, the chief minister of Haryana, said in June that to curb incidents of cow slaughter in the state, it would take strict and prompt action against the accused and hearings of all such cases would be held in fast-track courts.

If needed, he said, amendments would also be made to the Haryana Gau Sanrakshan and Gau Samvardhan Act, 2015, to ensure protection of cows.

Cow vigilantism gained widespread attention when Mohammad Akhlaq, a Muslim farmer from Dadri in Uttar Pradesh, was lynched for allegedly possessing beef in his house in September 2015. However, laboratory tests proved the meat was not beef.

Minorities groups in India say that since the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014, such incidents have increased, with no government official condemning them.

According to IndiaSpend, at least 25 people have been killed in India in cow-related violence since 2010 and 21 of them were Muslims.

Muhammad Arif, chairman of the Center for Harmony and Peace, said minority groups are easily targeted because even the government and higher authorities are in favor of vigilante groups and there are cases where they want to sort out their personal problems with Muslims in the name of cow protection.

"There were few cases of lynching in the past, but now reports of such incidents are routinely heard, which is very sad and disturbing," he said.

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