Newspaper article International New York Times

Mob Kills Indian Muslim Accused of Stealing a Cow

Newspaper article International New York Times

Mob Kills Indian Muslim Accused of Stealing a Cow

Article excerpt

It was the fourth time in six weeks that Hindus had killed Muslims they suspected of slaughtering, stealing or smuggling cows.

Amid a politically charged national debate over religious intolerance, a Muslim man was beaten to death by a mob of Hindus who suspected him of stealing a cow, a revered symbol in the Hindu religion. It was the fourth time in six weeks that Hindus had killed Muslims they suspected of slaughtering, stealing or smuggling cows.

The police found the bloodied and battered body of the man, Mohammad Hasmat Ali, early Monday morning in the remote village of Uchekon Moiba Thongkhong in Manipur, a state in northeast India. Mr. Ali, 55, married with three sons, was a leader in the neighboring village of Keirao Makting, where he was headmaster of a madrasa. Police officials said Mr. Ali had no criminal record and no known links to the cattle business.

"What is happening here is completely wrong -- people taking the law into their hands," Naba Kanta, the senior police official leading the investigation into Mr. Ali's death, said in an interview. "We face the problem of mob justice in this area, and we are trying to do our best to contain it."

The killings are occurring against a backdrop of intensifying political conflict over laws and policies aimed at protecting cows from slaughter and consumption. The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P., led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has pushed aggressively to pass state beef bans.

Several recent cases of violence have involved Hindu nationalist vigilante groups dedicated to protecting cows. The groups, including some with ties to the B.J.P., mobilize members to confront those suspected of slaughtering, eating or stealing cows, sometimes with catastrophic results.

These and other recent outbreaks of violence by Hindu nationalists have provoked a vigorous cultural and political backlash across India. …

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