With the conviction of 11 ‘Gau Rakshaks’, this becomes the first case of conviction in a case relating to violence perpetrated in the name of cow protection in the country.
NEW DELHI (Xinhua) — A special court has convicted as many as 11 Hindu cow vigilantes for lynching a 55-year-old Muslim trader on suspicion that he was carrying beef in his vehicle in India’s eastern state of Jharkhand.
The court held the 11 men guilty of murder Friday. The quantum of punishment will be pronounced on March 21, who face a minimum of life in jail and a maximum of death penalty.
“This is the first case related to cow vigilantism in the country in which the accused have been convicted. We will ask for the maximum punishment against the convicts,” additional public prosecutor Sushil Kumar Shukla told the media.
These convicts were part of a 100-odd mob which lynched Muslim trader Asgar Ali in Ramgarh town, some 45 kms from state capital Ranchi, barely on suspicion that he was carrying beef. The mob had even set his vehicle on fire.
Cows are revered as sacred animals among India’s Hindus, and there are strict laws on their slaughter and beef consumption in several parts of the country, particularly in states governed by India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Since the BJP came to power in 2014, critics have claimed that there have been a number of attacks on Dalits (untouchables) and minority Muslims for whom beef is a staple, especially in the northern states, by fringe Hindu groups who call themselves protectors of cows.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had at least twice condemned the attacks on Dalits and Muslims by cow vigilantes, saying murder in the name of cow protection “is not acceptable,” but that has not deterred the attackers.