Indian politician defends ‘cow vigilantes’ who killed Muslim farmer

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An Indian politician defended a mob of “cow vigilantes” for killing a Muslim man by cow vigilante in the northern district of Alwar, the Independent reported.

Talking to the media, Rajasthan’s Home Minister, Gulab Chande Kataria asserted the blame lay with both sides. Informing the media that cases have been filed by the police “against people smuggling the cows and also over the death of the man”.

“When they know that cow smuggling is banned in Rajasthan and there is a law against it, why were they doing it?” he asked.

“However, taking law in one’s hand is wrong. Police will act against both sides,” he added.

According to the newspaper, about 15 Muslim men were attacked on Monday by a group of cow vigilantes aka “gaurakshaks”, on the Behror highway in Alwar, some 150 kilometers away from Delhi. They were arrested by the police for ‘smuggling’ livestock despite showing proof that the cattle was bought legally from a fair in Jaipur.

Pehlu Khan, 55, died in hospital late Monday, two days after a mob attacked his cattle truck on a highway in Alwar in the western state of Rajasthan.

Speaking to BBC, Khan’s uncle, Husain Khan said his nephew was not a butcher but a cattle farmer, adding that the cattle was bought for a dairy farm.

Alwar police chief Rahul Prakash said at least six others were injured in the attack, but had now been discharged from the hospital. The police are still trying to identify the attackers and have filed a murder case, he said, adding that a postmortem would determine the cause of Khan’s death.

“We are yet to receive the postmortem report but he had multiple rib fractures,” he said.

At least 10 Muslim men have been killed in similar incidents across the country by Hindu mobs on suspicion of eating beef or smuggling cows in the last two years, the news agency said.

Cows are considered sacred in Hindu-majority India, and their slaughter is illegal in many states. In parts of northern and western India, squads of vigilantes roam highways inspecting livestock trucks for any trace of the animal. Critics say the vigilantes were emboldened by the election in 2014 of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.