Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence over a wave of attacks on people accused of eating beef or slaughtering cows, saying that killing in the name of an animal sacred to majority Hindus was wrong.
Modi was speaking a week after a 16-year old Muslim boy was stabbed to death on a train on suspicion of possessing beef, the latest of an estimated 28 people killed in violence over eating cows since 2010.
Muslims were the target of 51 percent of violence centred on bovine issues over nearly eight years (2010 to 2017) and comprised 86 percent of 28 Indians killed in 63 incidents.
As many of 97 percent of these attacks were reported after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government came to power in May 2014, and about half the cow-related violence–32 of 63 cases–were from states governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) when the attacks were reported.
Most of the victims were killed after Modi and his Hindu nationalist party won elections three years ago and there has been a lot of criticism that the party is more interested in protecting its Hindu fundamentalists and cows rather than humans who follow other ideas.Since coming to power, Modi has found it difficult to balance the competing demands of Hindu right-wing nutjobs in his own party and promoting development and an image of a modern, secular India befitting its growing economic influence.
His comment today seemed to be an attempt to reign in the nutjobs.
“Killing people in the name of ‘gau bhakti’ is not acceptable… No person in this nation has the right to take the law in his or her own hands,” he said
Of the 28 Indians who died over the seven-year period, 24 were Muslim, or 86 percent. As many as 124 people were injured in these attacks. More than half (52 percent) of these attacks were based on rumours. Only in India be people killed because it was rumoured that they had a hamburger.
In the first six months of 2017, 20 cow-terror attacks were reported–more than 75 percent of the 2016 figure, which was the worst year for such violence since 2010.
The attacks include mob lynching, attacks by vigilantes, murder and attempt to murder, harassment, assault and gangrape. In two attacks, the victims/survivors were chained, stripped and beaten, while in two others, the victims were hanged.