09/30/2015, 00.00
INDIA
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Man beaten to death by mob, who "suspected" him of having eaten beef

Rumor spread from a local Hindu temple. The man was at home with his family and now his son, 22, is in hospital in critical condition. Hindutva fundamentalists want to ban beef across the country. The cow is considered sacred to Hinduism. Msgr. Mascarenhas: "But the Hindu majority is tolerant. I appeal to it, in order to condemn the extremist nationalist fringe ".

Lucknow (AsiaNews) - An Indian man of 50, Mohammad Akhlaq, resident in the village of Bisara (in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh), was attacked and beaten to death for allegedly having raised and slaughtered a cow for consumption in his home. His 22 year old son, Danish, is fighting for his life in hospital.

The fury of about 100 people armed with iron bars and sticks, was triggered by an announcement in a local Hindu temple, which stated that the man had consumed beef in his house. Msgr. Theodore Mascarenhas, the auxiliary bishop of Ranchi, has noted: "What is happening in our beloved country is really distressing. Divisive forces seem to be taking the upper hand". But the majority of Hindus are tolerant, and this is why he is launching "an appeal to Hindu brethren, to speak up against the fundamentalists".

The incident occurred around 10 pm (local time) on September 28, when the man was attacked by an angry mob. The culprits also tried to harass his 18 year old daughter, Sajida, and his elderly grandmother was hit in the face. On arrival, the police took samples of meat in the refrigerator of the house, and sent them to the forensic department for further examination. Sajida, however, told the press that the meat is mouflon and not cow, as announced in the temple.

Cows are a manifestation of the divine in Hinduism. Killing or eating its flesh is deemed sinful. People from the Brahmin caste avoid either. Only Dalits (outcastes), who are considered impure and “untouchables”, can touch the animal, eat its meat and work the leather.

Recently, the state of Maharashtra, which is also run by a BJP administration, banned the sale of beef, and in recent days a Hindu nationalist leader of the state of Jharkhand has threatened new attacks against minorities, especially Christians, if the local government does not implement the total ban of livestock. Both states are led by Hindu nationalists of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party, in power throughout the Union with Modi).

Kiran S, superintendent of the local police in the district of Gautam Buddh Nagar, says: "The preliminary investigations have established that a group of people took the microphone in the local temple of Bisara and informed that beef was being eaten in Akhlaq house".

The alleged accusation sparked the anger of those present, six of them were arrested. Among these was the temple priest and his assistant, who were released after questioning. Once the news had spread the protest exploded among about 500 residents, which forced police to open fire. A bullet hit the abdomen a boy of 20, who works in a power plant in the area.

District magistrate NP Singh says that now the situation is back to normal and 800 agents have been deployed. Msgr. Mascarenhas says: "India´s Governance has come down to the lowest ebb. The whole world is laughing at us. There are big issues before the country. Let the Government and so called patriotic organizations work for building the country, not dividing and destroyíng it. this was  and is a tolerant and free country. We are proud to be Indians because our Majority Hindu Brothers have been so tolerant. Let not these fringe groups give the wonderful tolerant and accommodating Hindu majority a bad name. I appeal to the Hindu majority brethren to speak up against the fundamentalists. "

(Nirmala Carvalho contributed)

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