Christians from northeast India hold a protest march in New Delhi in August 2017 against the denial of the burial of a Catholic woman in Manipur. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/UCA News)
Three men suspected of smuggling cattle were lynched by villagers in the northeastern Indian state of Tripura.
Kiran Kumar, Khowai district superintendent of police, told media that villagers of Namanjoypara saw Zayed Hussein, Billal Miah and Saiful Islam fleeing with cattle in their vehicle on June 20.
They chased the vehicle and managed to stop it in North Maharanipur village, where they beat the three men. One man managed to escape but was caught in Mungiakami, a tribal hamlet.
Police rushed to the two locations and took the three victims to hospital, where a doctor declared them to be dead, Kumar said.
He said a case was registered and an investigation is underway but no arrests have yet been made.
Father Lawrence Darlong, chancellor of Agartala Diocese, said it was too early to conclude that communal forces were behind the incident and that early reports suggested that villagers might have reacted to thieves.
The BJP had tried all communal cards to woo the tribal people but it failed
“Mob lynching is rarely heard of in this part of the country and there is no cow protection law in northeast India,” he said. “It is better that we wait for the investigation.”
Father Felix Anthony, spokesman for the Catholic Church in northeast India, told UCA News that the incident could be related to the defeat of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the election to the Tripura tribal areas autonomous district council where the local party won.
“The BJP had tried all communal cards to woo the tribal people but it failed,” he said.
“The BJP has its own agenda. It plays divide-and-rule politics. It tries to polarize whenever and wherever it can. Divide people in the name of caste and creed is the hidden agenda of the party, and the latest incident can’t be ruled out as having some connection with it.”
Cow vigilantism gained widespread attention when Mohammad Akhlaq, a Muslim farmer of 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 BJP came to power in 2014, such incidents have increased.