A cattle trader and a minor boy were found hanging from a tree on Balumath-Herhanj road on Friday morning, leading to villagers blocking the road and flaring up tensions in the area. Villagers suspect that the double murder was carried out by people opposed to cattle trading.
The area has been on tenterhooks for months as Hindus and Muslims clashed three months ago over beef consumption, with security forces being brought in to maintain law and order.
However, since the shocking lynching of a man in Bisada village in October last year for being suspected of sacrificing a cow, beef has become an extremely sensitive issue, with many instances of people being attacked over the matter.
A truck driver shuttling cattle was killed by a group of miscreants in Himachal Pradesh in October 2015. Twenty two-year-old Noman is believed to have been beaten up by a group of Bajrang Dal activists, though police made no arrests. Four of Noman’s associates were also attacked, and taken to the police. They were booked under laws prohibiting cow slaughter and animal cruelty. Cattle slaughter and beef sale is banned in the state.
In November 2015, a madrasa headmaster, Mohammed Hasmat Ali, was clubbed to death by a mob near a village in Manipur’s Imphal East district. Villagers alleged they had spotted him with a calf that went missing from one of their village member’s shed.
Protests flared in the area with a Muslim organisation forming a joint action committee seeking justice for Ali, and refused to bury his body.
In January, a Muslim couple was among several passengers who were assaulted on a train in Madhya Pradesh when they objected to their baggage being searched for beef. Members of the Gauraksha Samiti boarded the train at Khirkiya station and claimed they found beef, though lab tests later clarified the meat was of a buffalo. Two members of the group were arrested for the attack.
Earlier this month, four Kashmiri students at Mewar University in Rajasthan were attacked by a mob and later arrested over rumours that they had cooked beef in their hostel room. The incident took place on campus and led to some Hindu groups protesting against the students and college administration.