Insulting the holy cow

In India: another Muslim killed by a mob because they thought or pretended to think he had been rude to a cow.

[A] Muslim man was beaten to death on Monday by a mob of Hindus who suspected him of stealing a cow, a revered symbol in the Hindu religion. It was the fourth time in six weeks that Hindus had killed Muslims they suspected of slaughtering, stealing or smuggling cows.

This isn’t animal rights; don’t be confused about that. This is about pretending one particular species is “sacred.”

The recent killings are occurring against a backdrop of intensifying political conflict over laws and policies aimed at protecting cows from slaughter and consumption. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or B.J.P., has pushed aggressively to pass state beef bans. The Delhi police, controlled by Mr. Modi’s government, recently descended in force on a canteen after it posted beef on its menu. (It turned out to be buffalo meat.) On Wednesday, the B.J.P. ran campaign ads accusing its opponents of “insulting the holy cow.”

Of insulting the cow – the holy cow. How ridiculous is it possible to get? Mobs in South Asia murder people for insulting a man who died 14 centuries ago, or “the holy cow.”

Several recent cases of violence have involved Hindu nationalist vigilante groups dedicated to protecting cows. The groups, including some with ties to the B.J.P., mobilize members to confront those suspected of slaughtering, eating or stealing cows, sometimes with catastrophic results.

There’s just nothing quite like religious feeling for getting people to commit atrocities.

On Sept. 28, a Muslim family was attacked in a village outside Delhi by a Hindu mob that suspected the family of eating beef, an accusation the family denied. The father, Mohammed Ikhlaq, was killed, and his son seriously wounded. Weeks later, another Hindu mob in the Kashmir Valley in north India threw a homemade bomb at a truck suspected of carrying beef; a young Muslim trucker, most of his body burned, died days later. Then, on Oct. 14, a Muslim man was killed in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh when he was attacked by a group of Hindu activists who suspected him of smuggling cattle for slaughter.

These and other recent outbreaks of violence by Hindu nationalists have provoked a vigorous cultural and political backlash across India. Dozens of leading authors returned India’s highest literary award in protest. Hundreds of scientists, academics, actors and filmmakers have signed petitions or spoken out. On Tuesday, Sonia Gandhi, the president of the Congress Party and Mr. Modi’s longtime political opponent, led a march in Delhi to condemn “the atmosphere of fear, intolerance and intimidation in the country.”

But Modi and his pals brush all that off as a “manufactured controversy.”

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