Muslim man attacked for ‘carrying beef’ in Maharashtra is a BJP leader
When self-styled cow protectors thrashed a Muslim man on allegations of possessing beef at Jalalkheda town in Maharashtra on Wednesday afternoon, they were probably unaware that their target was affiliated to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The man – 36-year-old Katol resident Salim Ismail Shah – was hospitalised after the incident. Nagpur police have arrested four men for the assault, the latest in a series of violent incidents involving cow vigilante groups.
Shah claims to be the general secretary of the BJP’s Katol taluka minority cell.
According to reports, the incident occurred while the victim was returning from Amner village in Amravati district to Katol by two-wheeler after purchasing meat for a function. Somewhere along the way, the cow protection activists waylaid Shah and began beating him up for allegedly transporting beef.
Shah said he kept trying to convince his attackers that the meat in his possession was mutton and not beef, but they wouldn’t listen to him. He received no assistance from the passersby, though a few did take videos of the incident on their cellphone cameras. Finally, one of the accused threw Shah’s vehicle at him – knocking him out.
A police team soon rushed to the spot and admitted Shah to a local medical centre. He was later shifted to the Katol civil hospital, where doctors declared him out of danger.
Police filed two cases, one naming Ashwin Uike, Janardan Chowdhury, Rameshwar Tayde and Moreshwar Tandulkar as the attackers and the other against Shah for alleged possession of beef. They have been sent to five-day police remand.
Shah’s wife – Zarin Ismail – denied the allegations, stating that they do not trade in beef. “My husband is a cotton trader. He was transporting mutton for an event organised by the local mosque committee,” she said.
Nagpur (rural) superintendent of police Shailesh Balkawde said the meat was packaged in the presence of veterinary doctors and sent to a laboratory for “beef testing”. We will take strict action against the people involved to ensure that such incidents do not recur, he added.
This incident comes two weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi publicly declared that “killing people in the name of protecting cows is not acceptable”. However, many still claim that enough is not being done by his government to deter cow vigilante groups.
A Delhi youth was stabbed in a train last month after an argument over seat-sharing, even as an angry mob accused him and his brothers of being “beef eaters”.
There has been a rise in incidents of mob violence in the name of cow protection. The slaughter of the animal, considered holy by many Hindus, is banned in many states of the country. The Devendra Fadnavis-led Maharashtra government even plans to provide special kits to police for on-the-spot beef-detection tests.