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In India, Hindu mob kills man for eating beef

September 30, 2015

Police in India's northern state, Uttar Pradesh, have arrested eight people after they allegedly beat a Muslim man to death. The victim was accused of slaughtering cows, considered sacred by Hindus.

Relatives of Akhlaq mourn after he was killed by a mobImage: Reuters/Stringer

The suspects were arrested in Bisara, a village around 45 kilometers (27 miles) from India's capital New Delhi, after they allegedly stoned and beat 52-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq to death, local administration chief Nagendra Pratap Singh told reporters on Wednesday.

They were charged with murder and rioting, Singh said, adding that his team was looking for two more of the accused. A sample of the meat, found in the victim's home, was also sent for forensic checks to determine if it was beef.

The murder and arrests caused tension between Hindus and Muslims living in the area and extra police had been deployed to maintain peace, Singh told reporters.

State government offers protection

The incident occurred on Monday, when a group of about 60 people gathered outside the blacksmith's house after a temple announced the family had been slaughtering cows and storing beef.

The mob then dragged him and his son from their home and beat them with sticks and bricks. Akhlaq was declared dead after being brought to a local hospital while his son battled with serious injuries.

"My brother was singled out. Why were we targeted? We don't eat beef," Akhlaq's brother Jan Mohammad Saifi told journalists. "They announced our family had slaughtered a cow in the village and that provoked people to attack our home," he added.

Uttar Pradesh state administration has meanwhile ordered an investigation into the incident. The local state government tweeted a picture of policemen standing outside the victim's home:

Officials also said in a Twitter post that they were offering one million rupees (around 13,666 euros or $15,200) as compensation to Akhlaq's family.

Activists condemn violence

The attack on Akhlaq received nationwide criticism. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted:

Rights' activist Kavita Krishnan said:

Eating beef is not illegal in Uttar Pradesh, which has a high number of Muslims. However, the rhetoric on cow protection may have motivated some groups to act as vigilantes, police officer Anurag Kumar told reporters. "The incident is shocking… The Hindu mob felt they had a license to kill," he said.

India is the world's largest exporter of beef, but Hindu nationalists in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government have called for a nationwide ban on cow slaughter and the beef trade because of the animal's significance in Hinduism. Several Indian states have imposed bans on either slaughtering, exporting or selling beef.#

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However, beef is eaten by many Hindus, Christians and Muslims in the country and is the chief source of income for hundreds of thousands of people.

mg/kms (AP, Reuters, PTI)