A man in India was reportedly lynched over beef, with villagers allegedly growing angry after rumors that the man and his family was keeping and eating the forbidden mean inside their home.
The killing happened Monday night in India’s Uttar Pradesh state. Reports indicated that a lynch mob formed to attack a man named Mohammad Akhlaq, the BBC reported.
Police said the mob believed the man had killed the cow as well.
“Some locals spread rumours that Akhlaq had cow meat at his home and engaged in cow slaughter. Following the rumours, they attacked his home,” senior local official NP Singh told The Indian Express newspaper.
The crowd reportedly beat the man and threw stones at him. The man’s 22-year-old son was also seriously injured in the attack, and was taken to a hospital.
The India Express published a harrowing account of the beef lynching, including an interview with 18-year-old Sajida, who watched the lynch mob attack and kill her father.
“They dragged my brother and father outside the room and used bricks which they found under his bed to beat them. My father was taken outside the house and beaten to death. My brother was dragged to the courtyard downstairs and they used bricks to hit him on the head and chest, leaving him unconscious. They also tried to molest me and hit my grandmother on her face. They threatened to kill me if I said a word to the police,” Sajida said.
The consumption of beef is a controversial issue in parts of India, where cows are considered a sacred animal for the Hindu religion. Close to 1.2 billion people in India are Hindu, about 80 percent of the population. Many states have even taken measures to outlaw beef, banning the slaughter and even consumption of beef.
The beef bans have been political hot points, with many speaking out against them. Beef is cheaper than other meats including chicken and fish, and is an important part of the diet for Muslims and tribal people, the BBC noted. Even many Hindus have spoken out against the ban, saying it is not the government’s place to be deciding what people can eat and what they cannot.
There is some dispute on whether the murdered man had actually eaten beef. Family members of the man lynched in India said the family had mutton in their home refridgerator, not beef.
The lynch mob seemed to come out of nowhere, Sajida said. She noted that other members of the community had eaten at their home in the past and never had a problem.
“Every time there was a feast in this house, Hindu residents of the village would attend such functions. Even on Bakr-Id, we had guests. But suddenly they started doubting us. There was some mutton in the fridge which was taken away yesterday. They thought it was beef. The police have taken it for examination.”
Sajida seemed torn apart at her father’s murder.
“If the results prove that it was not beef, will they bring back my dead father?”
Now officials are shedding some light on how the attack may have started. Reports suggest that the India beef lynching may have been spawned by local religious officials, Newsmax noted.
“An announcement about the family consuming beef was made at a temple, after which the mob descended on the man’s house,” said Kiran S., a senior police superintendent.
Police said the lynch mob did not disperse until police arrived, and even then some members clashed with officers, protesting the arrests and damaging vehicles.
Police have reportedly arrested six people in connection to the India beef lynching, and are trying to determine who was responsible for starting the rumor.
[Images via Daniel Berehulak, Allison Joyce, Paula Bronstein/ Getty Images]