One year after a Muslim man in India’s Uttar Pradesh State was beaten to death by a mob for allegedly slaughtering and eating a cow, the lynching remains a source of controversy. Following the incident, which made international headlines, “cow protection groups” proliferated across India. Since the rise of the current government, led by the BJP, religious intolerance and attacks on religious minorities has skyrocketed. The beef lynchings, were only a symptom of a larger problem of religious intolerance some claim is being fostered by the ruling party. Will India learn any lessons from the 2015 beef lynchings?
09/30/2016 India (Asia News) – Growing intolerance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies; a growing number of intellectuals who are distancing themselves from the political mainstream; the defeat of the ruling party BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party, the Hindu nationalist) in state elections in Bihar. But also the rise of a spontaneous movement of “cow protection vigilante groups”, willing to do everything, even using violence, to prevent the consumption or slaughter of an animal sacred to the Hindu faith. This is the situation a year after the fierce lynching of Dadri in Uttar Pradesh, where a Muslim man was beaten to death by an angry mob on suspicion of having consumed cow meat.
On September 28 last year, Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched, murdered in front of his family, arousing deep anger in much of the population. In Hinduism, the cow is revered as a manifestation of the divine: it is considered a sin to kill it or eat it, and the Brahmins (priests, the highest caste – ed) shall refrain from doing so. Only the Dalits (the untouchables) – considered unclean and therefore also called “untouchables” – can eat, touch, or work with its skin.
According to government statistics, beef is the main food for most of the non-Hindu population. About 80 million Indians consume it – that is one person every 13 inhabitants – of which most are Muslims. The data, however, also reveals that Hindus are consuming it in increasing numbers: to date, more than 12 million across the country.
Only later it turned out that the meat consumed by the Akhlaq family, who now live in Delhi for security reasons, was buffalo. Apart from the findings on the nature of the flesh, the beating sparked protests and “self-preservation” movements which involved all society.