India police: Punishment of self-styled 'cow protectors' a historic first


A police chief in India's eastern state of Jharkhand said on Thursday that the life sentences for 11 self-styled cow protectors for lynching a Muslim meat trader on suspicion of carrying beef was a historic first in the Hindu-majority country.

Rejesh Kumar told journalists that the sentencing on Wednesday of 11 men for the murder of 55-year-old meat trader Alimuddin Ansari, who was beaten to death by a mob in Ramgarh town last year, marked the first time that cow protectors had been punished by an Indian court.

In recent months, right-wing fringe groups have led campaigns and vigilante activities targeting Muslims and low-caste Dalits over alleged cattle slaughter and beef consumption.

India's Hindu majority regards the cow as holy and its slaughter is banned in several regions, including Jharkhand, where the lynching occurred.

"We wound up our investigations and built a solid case in eight months on the basis of which these men were sentenced," Kumar said. "Another accused, a juvenile, has been remanded to a correctional home."

Ansari's son, Shahban, told the Indian Express that his family was "satisfied" with the verdict, but disappointed that they had not received any compensation from the government.

According to data analytics site, India Spend, there were more than 60 reported cases of cow-related violence between 2010 and 2017. Ninety-seven percent of these occurred after the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has condemned the attacks and promised tough action against perpetrators, but opposition leaders accuse the government of indirectly supporting Hindu radicals.    (dpa)

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