The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has strongly condemned the latest episode of anti-minority violence in India, in the form of a mob lynching of a Muslim man and his son in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, over mere suspicion of having eaten beef. Although the incident was made to appear like a spontaneous act of violence by an unruly crowd, there are strong indications that this was a planned act, intended to terrorize the Muslim population of the district and suppress dissent across India over the beef ban implemented in some states.
News reports indicate the son of a local politician from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) instigated the mob of over 200 people, to attack Mohammad Akhlaq and his son. They beat Akhlaq to death, while his 22 year-old son Danish was injured and is in critical condition. Another son of Mohammed Akhlaq is a serving corporal in the Indian Air Force.
Beyond the mob’s inhuman behavior, it is alarming to note that the police have sent the meat from the victim’s refrigerator to a forensic lab to be tested, out of apparent respect for the mob’s feelings. This effectively turns the victim into the accused, despite the fact that even if the family were in possession of beef, they were not in violation of the Uttar Pradesh Cow Protection Act. Besides the law enforcement machinery, even the regional Hindi media has joined hands in labeling the victim, Mohammed Akhlaq as a cow-killer. Journalists from major media outlets attempting to visit the village in order to cover the story have been attacked by locals.
In a brazen act of state complicity with the killers, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate has threatened the family of the victim with “dire consequences” if they speak out. The fact that the local BJP leader Srichand Sharma announced a “mahapanchayat” (grand village gathering) to protest the arrests made in the case, is an indication of how Hindu nationalist forces are rallying behind the killers.
BJP and other Sangh-affiliated organizations have sought to make beef a deeply contentious issue across India. Although cow slaughter has traditionally been restricted, some BJP ruled states have banned the sale of all beef. India ranks 5th in the world in beef production, 7th in domestic consumption, and 1st in exporting. In 2014 India surpassed Brazil as the world’s top beef exporter. In the run-up to the last Parliamentary elections Mr. Modi had decried the “pink revolution,” lamenting India’s position as a major exporter of meat, although the industry is a source of livelihood for millions of Indians.
“Both the BJP, as well as Prime Minister Modi bear responsibility for the poison being spread through a twisted form of cultural nationalism,” said Mr. Umar Malick, President of IAMC. “It involves the PM wooing global audiences over promises of development, while giving a free hand to Hindu militias to terrorize and uproot hapless minorities,” added Mr. Malick.
The fact that this has happened in Uttar Pradesh, ruled by the Samajwadi Party (SP), is not a coincidence. The Sahay Committee, constituted to investigate the anti-Muslim pogrom in Muzaffarnagar in 2013, found both SP and BJP responsible for the mass violence that claimed over a 100 lives and resulted in the displacement of over 50,000 people.
IAMC has called on the national media to brave the attacks from local Hindu supremacist goons, and to expose the larger design behind the Dadri lynchings. Civil society must resist the increasingly fascist positions adopted by the Sangh and its affiliates. IAMC has also urged world leaders and technology titans that PM Modi has been courting since he came to office, to condemn Hindu nationalist fanaticism and diminishing religious freedom in India.
Indian-American Muslim Council is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with chapters across the nation. For more information please visit our website at:http://www.iamc.com