NEW DELHI, Oct 10, (AFP): Indian police have arrested 21 men after a mob thrashed two Muslims suspected of slaughtering a cow and set fire to some dozen shops, officials and reports said Saturday. The incident was reported from northern Uttar Pradesh state, where a mob recently murdered a 50-year-old Muslim man for supposedly eating beef — a taboo in the Hindu-majority nation. “A rumour spread (on Friday) that a cow has been slaughtered, after which some people beat up the men and resorted to arson,” Chandrapal Singh, a senior administrative officer of Mainpuri district, told AFP.
Singh said a post-mortem of the cow showed it had been dead for a while owing to some ailment and the men were only removing its skin when they were attacked by the mob. The incident adds to a raging row over what is seen as rising intolerance towards Muslims and other religious minorities since Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi stormed to power last year.
On Thursday, Modi appealed for religious unity, saying the nation would only prosper “when Hindus and Muslims unite and fight” against poverty, instead of against each other.
The Times of India Saturday said some 500 people armed with bamboo sticks and iron rods had set fire to shops belonging to Muslims before police dispersed the mob using tear gas. The two men who were beaten up by the mob had sustained serious injuries and were recuperating in a hospital, the daily said. Cows are considered sacred by most Hindus in officially secular India, although millions of Muslims and other minorities do eat beef. Religious minorities have recently spoken of their fear of erosion of rights in the world’s biggest democracy and called on Modi to rein in Hindu hardliners.
Delhi’s anti-graft party head sacks minister over ‘bribe’
Delhi chief minister and anti-corruption campaigner Arvind Kejriwal on Friday sacked one of his ministers for alleged bribe-taking after months of criticism over multiple scandals engulfing his party. Kejriwal used a televised press conference to announce the sacking of Asim Ahmed Khan, the capital region’s food and environment minister, over allegations that he received kickbacks from a builder for carrying out unauthorised construction. “We received a complaint that the minister took a bribe of 600,000 rupees ($9,255) from a builder,” Kejriwal said. The firebrand activist-turned-politician played audio clips allegedly of Khan talking to a middleman, before turning the tapes over to the Central Bureau of Investigation. Kejriwal said the decision to sack the minister should serve as a stern message to his party members that they are closely watched. “We can tolerate anything but corruption. We won’t spare the corrupt, be it anyone,” he said.
Kejriwal did not specify whether Khan would continue to remain in the anti-corruption Aam Aadmi (Common Man) party, which trounced Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in February elections. The party seized power on the platform of providing a corruption-free government in the capital and Kejriwal has challenged Modi’s party to take action against leaders accused of graft. But Kejriwal has come under pressure from opponents over a series of scandals involving his party members. In June law minister Jitender Tomar resigned after he was arrested for acquiring a fake law degree, while former minister and party member Somnath Bharti is accused of trying to kill his wife.