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Indian Muslims fear cow vigilantism on Eid al-Adha

Monitoring Desk

NEW DELHI: As the second largest festival of Muslims is just around the corner, Indian Muslims express their fear of cow vigilantism in the country and called on authorities to ensure peace on the occasion of Eid al-Adha.

“Under the name of cow vigilantism, several lynching incidents have taken place recently, and the incidents have increased over the past few years,” Tasleem Rahmani, president of the New Delhi-based Muslim Political Council, told Anadolu Agency.

The Eid al-Adha, a Muslim festival which is marked by the sacrifice of animals to feed the poor, will be observed across India on Aug. 22.

The Eid celebrations come on the heels of growing fears of cow vigilantism, which has caused several deaths in the country.

Cows are considered sacred in the Hindu religion and since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014 there has been a rise in attacks on Muslim cattle owners by Hindu nationalists, with several self-styled cow protection groups emerging in the country.

Rahmani said the cow vigilantism “would lead to difficulties in performing the sacrifices and doing the Eid rituals.” He said many Muslim organizations have written to the government to ensure peace in view of cow vigilantism, but he said that the government is not doing anything. “The number of sacrifices [on Eid al-Adha] has started going down. The fervor and enthusiasm, which used to be there in the past, is not there anymore,” he said.

– Lawmaker resigns

Earlier this month, a controversial legislator from the right-wing ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the southern Indian state of Telangana resigned to focus on what he called “cow protection” during the Eid al- Adha festival.

T Raja Singh Lodh, the legislator, said his first priority is to protect the Hindu religion. “This [recent threat of the BJP MLA] is the preparation of 2019 elections. There is an apprehension among people that such incidents will increase […] It is the duty of the government to ensure that the Muslims exercise their rituals in accordance with their religion,”

Maqsood-ul Hasan Qasmi, president of Imam Council of India, told Anadolu Agency.

“Muslim organizations have already said that if it is hurting the sentiments of their Hindu brethren, they won’t do cow sacrifices …but under the name of cow vigilantism, there is a kind of fear among people.”

In 2015, a mob killed a Muslim man, identified as Mohammad Akhlaq, in the state of Uttar Pradesh on the suspicion that he was storing beef in his refrigerator.

In 2017, the Indian government had attempted to impose a nationwide ban on the sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter. The ban was later withdrawn. The Indian Supreme court in July 2018 stated that violence in the name of cow vigilantism was not acceptable and it is the obligation of the states to ensure that such incidents do not occur.

Indian Human Right activist John Dayal called on the state authorities to take notice of such threats coming from different groups, including the recent one by the BJP lawmaker.

– ‘Zero tolerance’ against unlawful activities

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, an Indian Home Ministry official said the ministry in the past had already issued instructions to the state governments to be vigilant against unlawful activities.

“The states have been asked that there should be zero tolerance against those who take law into their own hands in the name of cow protection. The state police too have been acting as well in such situations,” said the official, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

At Jamia Masjid area in the Indian capital New Delhi, hundreds of goat sellers from different areas have started arriving. “I have been coming here for the last five years. But off late, the sale is not much,” said Ali, who came from the state of Rajasthan to sell four pairs of goats.

“Last year, I had to take back one pair of goat back to my village,” he added.

Mohammed Zaffer, a local resident, complained that the prices of cattle are much higher than the previous year.

“The prices are more than the last year. Maybe the trade has just started and the prices will come down later,” Zaffar said.

“We always sacrifice goats only. In Delhi, there is no fear among anyone because law and order is very strict,” he added.

Earlier this month, the Indian government imposed a ban on the export of around several thousand goats and sheep from Tuna port in the Indian state of Rajasthan, which is ruled by the BJP.

The livestock consignment was to be sent to Gulf, ahead of the Eid, said the exporters.

“Since 1971, we have been exporting livestock. But this is for the first time, the permission has been withdrawn by the authorities. They have not given the reason as well,” Adil Noor, secretary of Livestock Exporters Association, Gujarat (LEAG), told Anadolu Agency. (AA)

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