Killed for trading in cattle


Two men who went to a nearby market to sell their cattle for slaughter were found hanging on a tree on early hours of this Friday. This happened in the Indian state of Jharkhand, about 60 miles from the state capital of Ranchi.

See the Times of India report:

In an incident reminiscent of the Dadri lynching, two Muslim men herding eight buffaloes on their way to a Friday market were beaten up and hanged to death from a tree by suspected cattle-protection vigilantes in Balumath forests in Latehar district, 100km from the state capital, early on Friday.

The deceased, Muhammad Majloom, 35, and Azad Khan alias Ibrahim, 15, were cattle traders and related to each other. Their bodies were strung up with their hands tied behind their backs and their mouths stuffed with cloth.

“The manner of their hanging showed that the assailants were led by extreme hatred,” said Latehar Superintendent of Police  Anoop Birthary.

In India , especially after the ascendancy on to power by the Hindu Right wing Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) in the 2014 general elections, such incidents of attack on cattle traders and those who are suspected of selling or eating cow meat are becoming more and more frequent. Muslims are only attacked though many Hindus also sell cattle for slaughter and eat cow meat. The most talked about of such incidents was the Dadri lynching.

Wikipedia page has the facts about the incident.

On 28 September 2015 evening, two boys used the local temple’s public announcement system to spread an unsubstantiated rumor that the family of Mohammad Akhlaq had killed a cow and consumed its meat. Later, the police said that this rumor was the cause of the lynching.

A Hindu mob carrying sticks arrived at Mohammad Akhlaq’s house at around 10:30pm. The family had finished dinner and were about to go to sleep. Akhlaq and his son Danish were already asleep. The mob woke them and accused them of consuming beef. They found some meat in the refrigerator and seized it, but the family insisted it was mutton. The mob dragged the entire family outside and Akhlaq and Danish were repeatedly kicked, hit with bricks and stabbed. Akhlaq’s elderly mother and his wife were also attacked. The family’s neighbors tried to stop the mob but were not able to. The police were called and arrived an hour later. By then, Akhlaq was dead and Danish was badly injured.

Son of a local BJP leader was among those who were arrested for the crime and the case is slowly moving in court

The above incident raised a huge media storm but many a time the narrative was reduced to why the man did not deserve death because he was not eating cow meat but just mutton.

This time also it seems the Times of India was dismayed that the 2 Muslim men were killed just for selling buffaloes for slaughter, not cows.

You may wonder how killing or eating cows make you deserve death while killing or eating buffaloes or lambs do not.

That means you do not know the strange, irrational reverence that some sections of Hindus has for cows. For them cows are gomathas or mothers to be worshipped and protected.

This message of reverence to cows was propagated by none other than father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi.

He once wrote:

Cow protection is the gift of Hinduism to the world. And Hinduism will live so long as there are Hindus to protect the cow…… Hindus will be judged not by their TILAKS, not by the correct chanting of MANTRAS, not by their pilgrimages, not by their most punctilious observances of caste rules, but their ability to protect the cow”. (YI, 6-10-1921, p. 318).

Laws for protecting cows are nothing new. Even the India’s Constitution of 1950 said:

Article 48.

Organisation of agriculture and animal husbandry.—The State shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.

Up to 24 of the total 29 states of India have some kind of cow protection laws already in place before the coming into power of current Modi government. Sale of cows for slaughter, selling or possession of cow meat and even selling of packaged cow meat are punishable by 1-5 years of imprisonment.

Though claimed to be an ancient custom, this love for cow and prohibition of killing of cows are comparatively a new phenomenon. There are sufficient evidences from archeological excavations and Hindu scriptures that show that cow, though considered to be very important, was given as offering to gods during important rituals and eaten during special feasts in Vedic India. That may be the reason why in some parts of India, especially in the south and north east, beef is a widely eaten dish by the Hindus.

The current movement to protect cow and make it a sacred symbol has nothing to do with religion as such. Cows are used by the Hindu right wing to create hatred towards Muslims, as they are the community mostly involved in its slaughter and eating of cow meat. It is also used to create hatred against freethinkers and atheists who do not follow any food taboo.

Cow protection is a political movement, designed to bring division in society so as to consolidate votes and support in Hindu groups favor. Attacks like this that resulted in loss of 2 lives and the laws that criminalize cow slaughter, because it supposedly hurt the sentiments of some people, are a shameful blot on the secular polity of India.



  1. says

    “Cow protection is a political movement, designed to bring division in society so as to consolidate votes and support in Hindu groups favor.”

    Very interesting. I, like so many people, had simply assumed it was an ancient tradition. I shall certainly be looking into this.

    I am always astounded at “godly” people of any religious tradition deliberately making up politics and practices aided at whipping up hatred and violence for political reasons. Yet I should not be, it happens so often. It seems a frequent side effect of religion is the belief that any action, even the most immoral, are perfectly fine as long as it promotes the religion.

    • Arun says

      Cow had a special place in ancient India , but that did not mean it was not killed , sacrificed or eaten during special occasions in ancient India. Later , may be from 5-7th century CE , eating beef became a taboo for upper caste Hindus though others continued to consume it. Cow protection movement is only about 150 years old and has a divisive political agenda.

  2. lorn says

    Many moons ago, I seem to remember dinosaurs (But they may have just been really big cars.) I was studying the anthropology of religion. A professor suggested that Hindu cow worship was simply a practical adaptation that has become a cultural norm. That the religious significance, and passion were recent additions.

    The story, as I remember it, being that some wise person a very long time ago noted that families that kept their cow prospered less in the short term but better in the long and survived in hard times. Whereas families that ate their cow prospered in the short term but suffered in the long. A cow is more valuable alive because it converts freely available water and grass into milk, urine that has many uses, and dung that burns. The cow is also a potential beast of burden that can plow fields, operate a pump, or draw a cart. That the religious inclusion of cows as sacred animals started as simple practical advice to think about the long term good.

    There was also some mention that the Hindus really didn’t have much of a problem with people eating cattle. If the animal is dead eating it is only a problem for the fanatics. Which seem to imply that the issue is with killing the animal.

    The accepted way around this is to practice benign neglect. Take a young calf, pen it up in the open, and deprive it of warmth and milk until it dies after a few days. A miserably slow, painful, and degrading death is, evidently, relatively okay with the deities and their minions.

    It is a strange consequence of religion, but entirely typical of religion’s ability to take something simple and practical, convert it into a murderously passion filled perversion of the original concern and end up causing more suffering, while avoiding any responsibility.

    After apprehending all that in an extended session after class I was, in light of the stupid cruelty of mankind, heavy of heart and found it difficult to ride my loyal triceratops home. Then again there was religious festival blocking the road so maybe that had more to do with it.

    • Arun says

      All the uses mentioned are uses of cattle as a class , which includes cow and its progeny and Buffaloes and their progeny. Why do you think cow was given an exalted status , while Buffaloes were denied that ?

      • Arun says

        Are cows more docile than Buffaloes ? Evidence please !
        Or is it because Buffaloes are of darker colour than cows?

  3. lorn says

    Why cows and not buffaloes?

    An interesting question. I don’t know. Perhaps it has to do with the more docile nature of cows.

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