Two women who were allegedly gang-raped two weeks ago in the Mewat region of Haryana one of the women told news reporters that attackers asked her if she ate beef.
“They asked if we eat beef. We said we don’t, but they insisted we did. Then they said we’re hurting you before so you don’t and that if we tell anyone we’ll will be insulted”.
The 20-year-old muslim woman and her 14-year-old cousin were sexually assaulted by several men in their home in Mewat on the August 24. Their uncle and aunt were tied up and then beaten to death.
The Haryana police had arrested four men in their 30s from the village and initially booked them for rape and trespass. Murder charges were added only when the locals protested.
The police, however, maintain that neither the women nor their families had mentioned these allegations earlier. Senior police officers say so far, no link to cow vigilante groups have emerged. The state government has recommended that the Central bureau of Investigation probe the case.
Over the past few months, there have been incidents of cow vigilante groups attacking suspected cattle smugglers. In June, a lorry driver was beaten up for allegedly carrying beef. They have also complained against the biriyani shops on the Mewat highway, which have been raided by the police.
Tensions are running high in Mewat — Haryana’s Muslim-dominated region ahead of Eid on Tuesday.
Ahead of the Eid festival Haryana police had started collecting samples of Biryani sold in Mewat district, the states only Muslim dominated district. The biryani checks have taken many by surprise asking whether the police should be focusing on other crimes in the state which sees the second largest number of complaints to the police.
State Minister Anil Vij on Thursday justified the move, saying: “They (police) are in charge of implementing the law. It is part of their duty to check that beef is not consumed, as it is illegal in India.”
The chief of the Haryana Cow Welfare Commission, Bhani Ram Mangla, visited Mewat on Tuesday and instructed the police to make sure no beef biryani is sold.
“The police have been directed to collect samples of biryani from villages where it is being sold and check which meat has been used to prepare it,” said Bharti Arora, a police officer in the special task force for cow protection.
Police claim to have found beef in the biriyani they have been collecting over the past few days. The samples were tested in a a government lab in Hisar.
Several State Governments and Union Territories (UTs) have enacted cattle preservation laws in one form or the other. Arunachal Pradesh, Kerala, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Lakshadweep have no legislation. All other states/UTs have enacted legislation to prevent the slaughter of cow and its progeny.
In Haryana, cow protection laws are among the toughest. The punishment for cow slaughter is 10 years in jail and for trading in beef, a person can be jailed for five years.
In December last year a migrant worker from Uttar Pradesh was shot dead by ‘cow protection vigilante’ team.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar recently said in an interview that “Muslims can continue to live in this country, but they will have to give up eating beef” because “the cow is an article of faith here”.
On 28 September 2015, a mob lynched a 50-year-old man, Mohammed Akhlaq, over the rumours of eating and storing beef. The Muslim man’s killing led to a massive outrage across the country.