Rights

Rumours of Cow Death Sparks Communal Tension in Burhanpur, Four Muslim Men Arrested

Rescued cattle are seen at a "goushala", or cow shelter, run by Bharatiya Gou Rakshan Parishad, an arm of the Hindu nationalist group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), at Aangaon village in Maharashtra. February 20, 2015. Credit: Reuters/Shailesh Andrade

Rescued cattle are seen at a goushala, or cow shelter, run by Bharatiya Gou Rakshan Parishad, an arm of the Hindu nationalist group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), at Aangaon village in Maharashtra. February 20, 2015. Credit: Reuters/Shailesh Andrade

Rumours about the death of a cow led to four Muslim men being arrested from the Gopalpura village in Burhanpur. The incident reportedly sparked communal tension in the area.

According to the Indian Express, Raju Pathan, who owns a panipuri stall, had apparently run home after Amin Nawaz had told him that his cow had died. The cow in question, however, was alive. Another farmer, Yogesh Mahajan, asked Raju Pathan to identify the person who spread the rumour.

When questioned, Amin admitted to have spread the rumour, and with his accomplice, Iqbal, had allegedly beaten up Pathan and Mahajan for causing insult to the Muslim community.

Following this, members of both communities began to gather and the police were forced to bring in reinforcements to control the situation. Four Muslims – Amin Nawaz, Salim Usman, Itbar Pathan and Latif Pathan – were arrested and booked under criminal intimidation and ‘voluntarily causing hurt’, among other things.

Yogesh Mahajan, who told the Indian Express that he had gone to Raju’s house to engage his family as labourers at his farm, insisted that he was not associated with any cow-protection groups.

The superintendent of police, Manoj Rai, dismissed the incident as a minor one.

This incident is the latest in a series of recent disturbances related to increasing cow vigilantism in the country.

Last week, two women in Madhya Pradesh were brutally beaten up for allegedly carrying beef. The ongoing Dalit protests in Gujarat was sparked when seven members of a Dalit family in the state were beaten by gau raksha (cow protection) activists last month for skinning a dead cow.

In June, a mob of 150 vigilantes had thrashed three allege cow transporters and stripped one.

The issue of cow vigilantism has come up in parliament as well, with BSP’s Mayawati asking why Dalits and Muslims should suffer in the name of gau raksha.

In March this year, Mustain Abbas was killed in Haryana, allegedly by gau rakshaks, when he was transporting newly-purchased bullocks to use on his fields. According to his family, police officers have been threatening them instead of going ahead with the investigation and holding those responsible culpable.

Also in March, two Muslim cattle traders (including a 12-year-old boy) were hanged from a tree in Latehar, Jharkhand, allegedly by a cow protection group. Police handling of this situation has also come under a lot of criticism.

Around the same time, four students from Jammu and Kashmir were beaten by a mob in Rajasthan

Another beef-related killing took place in October 2015 in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, when Zahid Ahmed, a 19-year-old truck driver, was attacked by a mob and set on fire inside his truck on the Jammu-Srinagar road for allegedly slaughtering cows.

In September 2015, Mohammed Akhlaq was lynched to death by a mob in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, after people suspected that he had beef in his fridge.