By Ahmad Adil
A 28-year-old Muslim man was beaten to death on suspicion of cow smuggling by an angry mob in Indian state of Rajasthan in the wee hours of Saturday, police said.
According to the police, the victim, identified as Akbar Khan, was allegedly transporting cows on foot along with another man and villagers in Alwar district stopped them.
“Two people were transporting cows. They came under attack of the villagers in which Khan died. Another person managed to escape from the spot. The incident occurred around 1.00 a.m. local time,” Subhash Chand, in-charge of a police station, told Anadolu Agency over phone.
Cows are considered sacred in the Hindu religion and since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014 there has been a rise in attacks on Muslim cattle owners by Hindu nationalists, with several self-styled cow protection groups emerging in the country.
Chand said that they have registered a case in this regard.
Hemant Priyadarshy, a top police officer in the state, told Anadolu Agency two suspects have been arrested so far.
It is not the first time when the lynching took place in Alwar district. In 2017, a Muslim man, Pehlu Khan, was killed and his associates seriously wounded while they were transporting cows in the district.
Rajasthan’s Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje condemned the incident and vowed to take action against the culprits.
“The incident of alleged lynching of a person transporting bovines in Alwar district is condemnable. Strictest possible action shall be taken against the perpetrators,” she said on Twitter.
Human rights activists in the country expressed concerns over the incident, calling it “unacceptable.”
“The latest incident is heart-wrenching and terrible,” renowned Indian human right activist John Dayal told Anadolu Agency.
He said the general elections are scheduled next year in the country and right-wing government BJP need a “polarized country.”
"There has to be an end to the policy and politics of religious polarization. This country[India] is of Muslims as much of the Hindus, Christians and other people. Religious bigotry has to penalized and strong action is required at all levels,” he said.
Brinda Adige, another activist told Anadolu Agency: “Unless and until punishment is exercised swiftly and stringently [against the accused], people are not going to learn.”
“Whole question today is why there is a sense of intolerance being spread in the country against certain group and categories of people. It is unacceptable in a democratic country. The government should take steps [to control such incidents] because they are the elected representatives,” she said.