BIHAR, INDIA — In the eastern state of Bihar, India, three men have been arrested by the police for their involvement in the death of a Muslim man who was attacked on suspicion of carrying beef. The victim, Naseem Qureshi, aged 56, died after being attacked by a mob earlier this week. The sale and consumption of beef is restricted in some parts of the country by local governments, as cows are considered sacred in Hinduism. There have been numerous instances of attacks on individuals accused of killing cows for meat or leather, with the majority of victims being from the Muslim minority population or those in the lower ranks of India’s ancient caste system.
Since the rise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government in 2014, self-proclaimed Hindu cow protection groups have taken it upon themselves to enforce the law. However, Bihar, where the latest incident occurred, is currently governed by a regional party and not Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, which is in opposition. According to a police statement made in court, the victim was surrounded by more than 20 people and attacked. Although the police intervened, Naseem Qureshi died on the way to the hospital. The head of the Rasulpur police station in Bihar, Ramchandra Tiwari, confirmed that three people have been arrested in connection with the crime.
In the northern Indian state of Haryana, two Muslim men were abducted and killed last month, with their bodies discovered in a burnt-out vehicle the day after they went missing. The families of the victims, Junaid and Nasir, named five men belonging to the Hindu hardline group Bajrang Dal in a criminal complaint to the police. One man was subsequently arrested, who police said was a taxi driver involved with cow vigilante groups. Meanwhile, the families of the victims were offered compensation by the Rajasthan state government and a promise of job opportunities. Rajasthan and Haryana are two of several states in India that have banned cow slaughter, with authorities requiring permits for anyone transporting the animals across state borders. The Modi government has been criticized by some for turning a blind eye to vigilante attacks on minority Muslims in the name of cow protection.