Written by: Sinan Khalid Waheed
An Indian Muslim died of his injuries after his group was attacked by a suspected cow protection vigilante group while transporting cattle. Villagers hurried to get a glimpse of young Azmat as he returned from the hospital, with a fractured rib, clots in the left eye and numerous lacerations on his arms and stomach. Azmat is extremely lucky to be alive.
He, along with four others was attacked by a cow protection vigilante group while he was transporting cattle that the group had purchased in Rajasthan to Haryana.
“Despite having legal documents we were pulled out on the streets, beaten by sticks and the crowd was shouting for us to be burned alive. If the police had not come and rescued us, all of us would have been dead,” said Azmat to BBC Hindi.
The cow is considered to be a sacred animal by the majority of India’s Hindu population and the butchering of cows is illegal in some Indian states as well. Last month only, the Gujarati local government enforced a law making the butchering of cows illegal. Those who broke this law would be sentenced to life in prison.
In 2015, a man was beaten to death just because he had beef in his fridge. Since then, there have been many reports of cow protection vigilante groups across India. In this case, the group claims that the cows that they had bought were not for slaughter but instead, for dairy purposes. All five men were rushed to the hospital. All but one survived. Pehlu Khan fought hard for three days but his injuries got the best of him.
“Who will return our father to us? I couldn’t meet him after the attack and could only see his dead body. My mother and grandmother haven’t eaten for the last four days. Who will compensate for their loss?” asked Pehlu Khan’s son, Irshad Khan.
Irshad was also one of the people transporting the animals when the incident occurred. Indian authorities have arrested three men for recording the incident, that has gone viral on social media.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized the vigilantes saying such people made him ‘angry.’ However, this has not stopped the movement of the cow protection vigilante groups. After the attack, there has been a great rise in tension and has spread fear among the population.