The 55-year-old man was called Pehlu Khan and was a native of Haryana. Together with four other people he had participated in a cattle fair. The assailants belong to the Hindu nationalist and paramilitary groups Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal.
Jaipur (AsiaNews) - A Muslim man aged 55 was kicked and punched to death by a mob of radical Hindus "guardians of cows" and died in the hospital after two days of agony. It happened in Rajasthan, in western India, where about 15 people belonging to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal, two paramilitary Hindu nationalist movements, attacked a caravan of vans and their five Muslim drivers.
Their only fault was the transport of two dairy cows, previously purchased at a livestock fair in Jaipur. The attackers, self-appointed "gau rakshaks" (ie, guardians of cows, sacred animals for the Hindu religion), dragged the men out of the vehicle, crushed them under the eyes of the police, and attacked the vehicles (see video). All five Muslims were taken to hospital and one of them, Pehlu Khan, died from his injuries.
The video of the attack was published on the internet and quickly became viral. The images show the violence by Hindu radicals, which have blocked the vans the Muslims were traveling on, on national highway no. 8 near Jaguwas in Alwar district. The attacked were jerked violently thrown to the ground and kicked. In the movie you see one of them on the pavement, motionless.
The radicals accused them of the illegal transport of cattle, banned in Rajasthan. The Islamic faithful instead say they presented submitted official documents certifying the legal sale of animals.
Police arrested 10 people and opened a case against them for breach of the Indian Penal Code according to sections n. 143 (unlawful assembly), n. 323 (injuries caused voluntarily), n. 341 (unlawful arrest), n. 147 (destruction of property), n. 308 (manslaughter) and n. 379 (theft). After the death Pehlu Khan they also added murder (n. 302). On the other hand, even the five Muslims were blamed for violating the Rajasthan Bovine Animals (Prohibition of Slaughter & Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Act of 1995.
Rajasthan is not the only Indian state where prohibited cow slaughter. Almost throughout union territory, except in Kerala and West Bengal, there are forms of restriction or bans on the consumption, slaughter and transport of cattle and buffalo. Some states also provide for penalties and fines for those who contravene the law. Recently, the newly elected chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, where the Bharatiya Janata Party of prime minister Narendra Modi triumphed, has forced the closure of slaughterhouses to protect the cows. Last week the government of Gujarat decreed that anyone who kills a cow will be punished by life imprisonment and fines of up to 100 thousand rupees (1,443 euro).
In India the cow is considered sacred and its consumption an insult to the gods. The issue, however, is used by Hindu nationalists to put pressure on the Christian and Muslim minorities, which largely rely on breeding and animal trade. In fact, the slaughter prohibition extends to the entire population, not only to Hindus, forced to observe dietary practices alien to their own religious beliefs.
Also often Hindu extremists use the motivation of cattle protection as an excuse to cover up violence and abuse. In 2015 a Muslim was lynched in Uttar Pradesh on suspicion of having eaten meat from cows (it turned out that it was a buffalo). Last year in Gujarat four Dalits were beaten for having skinned a cow (later it was found that it was a lion). After that, for weeks Dalits went on strike by refusing to bury the animals, a degrading and discriminatory job that the upper castes have always given them because they are considered "unclean".