In what appears to be another incident highlighting the growing religious intolerance in India, another Muslim man has been lynched near the northern town of Shimla following rumours that he was smuggling cattle.
Noman, 22, and his four associates were in a truck with around a dozen cattle when they were intercepted by an angry mob near Sarahan village in Himachal Pradesh earlier this week.
Read: Mob rule: Muslim man lynched for ‘eating beef’ in India
The mob beat up occupants of the truck before dispersing. Noman, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, was so badly bludgeoned that he died of his injuries. On Friday, police said that they were still searching for the men who had attacked the truck and killed the alleged smuggler, the Hindustan Times reported.
“We are yet to make any arrests in connection with the lynching of the man,” said police superintendent Soumya Sambasivan, adding that they suspect the involvement of an extremist Hindu organisation Bajrang Dal.
“The role of Bajrang Dal activists is being investigated, and we will be camping at Sarahan for further action in the case.”
Read: Indian ruling party official urges Muslims to give up eating beef
Bizarrely, the authorities have gone on to book other occupants of the truck Nishu (37), Salman (20), Gulzar (22) and Gulfaam (24) under India’s Cow Slaughter Act and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
The incident comes nearly a fortnight after another Muslim man in the neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh was lynched and his 24-year old son injured when a mob attacked their house based on rumours that they had slaughtered a cow and consumed its meat. Forensic reports had later established that the man had only mutton.
Read: India’s Modi calls Muslim’s murder over beef ‘unfortunate’
Earlier this week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called the lynching in Dadri an “unfortunate” incident. Modi had refrained from directly commenting on the incidents till an interview in a Bengali daily two days ago.
J&K High Court sets aside order on beef sale
A full bench of Jammu and Kashmir High Court has set aside an earlier order of the court directing strict enforcement of a legal ban on the slaughter of cows and beef sale, saying it was for the state government and the legislature to consider the issue.
The bench comprising Justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar, Ali Muhammad Magrey and Tashi Rabstan, which virtually restored status quo ante, had been asked by the Indian Supreme Court on October 5 to resolve the beef ban issue as division benches of the High Court – one in Srinagar and another in Jammu – had differed over the matter, after which the state government had moved the top court.
Read: Mutton found in lynched man’s fridge
The bench was constituted after the Indian top court kept in abeyance for two months the order of a division bench of the state high court passed on September 9, directing the police authorities to enforce the more than century-old beef ban in the state.
However, a week later, another division bench of the court in Srinagar, while admitting a writ petition challenging the constitutional validity of the penal sections regulating ban on bovine slaughter and beef sale, had issued notices to the state government directing it to file a response within one week.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2015.