An Uttar Pradesh court on Thursday asked police to file an FIR for alleged cow slaughter against the family of a Muslim man whose lynching last year sparked nationwide outrage amidst allegations of rising intolerance.
The Gautam Budh Nagar district court accepted a plea filed by a group of people accused of killing 55-year-old Mohammad Ikhlaq on September 28 at his house at Bisada village in Dadri.
Ikhlaq’s son Danish was left with a fractured skull when the mob attacked them for allegedly slaughtering a cow and storing its meat for consumption.
Ram Sharan Nagar, a lawyer of the petitioners, said the FIR will name Ikhlaq and police will have to investigate his role in the alleged cow slaughter and beef consumption, both banned in Uttar Pradesh
Several states have stringent laws that bar slaughter of cattle – considered sacred by Hindus -- and consumption of beef. Penalty for violation include jail term.
The mob had recovered a bowl of meat from Ikhlaq’s residence and remains of an animal from near his house. Forensic tests later confirmed that samples collected from both places belonged to a “cow or its progeny”, first reported by HT online.
“The court found enough evidence supporting our plea and ordered the police to register an FIR and investigate the matter,” said Nagar.
Eighteen people, including three juveniles, were arrested on charges of murderous assault on Ikhlaq. Two of the juveniles were later granted bail.
“If found guilty, the accused can get a maximum punishment of seven years imprisonment and fined up to Rs 10,000 fine,” said Thakur Shishpal Sisodiya, the counsel of another petitioner.
Families of those accused of killing Ikhlaq had moved court after police refused to charge the slain man and his family of cow slaughter.
“This is what we wanted. The truth should prevail. They violated a law and they should face the law. We have full faith in the judiciary...,” said Sanjay Rana, a former BJP member and father of an accused.
Anurag Singh, Dadri deputy superintendent of police, said they are yet to receive the court’s order.
Yusuf Saifi, the lawyer for Ikhlaq’s family, however, refused to comment as they “are a part of the case and we respect the court”.
The Dadri incident had led to stinging criticism of the BJP-led government at the Centre for allegedly failing to rein in fringe groups which were targeting dissenting voices and curbing freedom of personal choice.
A host of prominent historians, litterateurs, scientists and filmmakers had also returned different awards as a mark of protest against what they said was “growing intolerance” in the country under of the BJP-led government.