By Shajid Khan
Guwahati, April 10, 2019: A mob has thrashed a man for allegedly selling cooked beef at his eatery in Assam, northeastern India.
The attackers also stopped Shaukat Ali, who is in his 70s, from going for namaz (Muslim prayers) and forced him to consume pork, a food item forbidden for Muslims.
The incident took place on April 7 at Assam’s Biswanath Charali, headquarters of Biswanath district, about 240 km northeast of Guwahati, the state’s commercial capital.
The mob also videotaped the attack on the sexagenarian skull capped bearded man and circulated it on social media.
In the video the irate mob is heard demanding Ali to declare his nationality, asking if he is Bangladeshi or if he has a National Register of Citizen (NRC) certificate.
Ali is currently undergoing treatment in Biswanath Civil Hospital. “I was badly beaten by the mob for keeping beef in my hotel for sale. I was even stopped from offering namaz and forced to eat pork. I am doing this business for the last 40 years,” Ali told reporters.
Narrating the attack, Ali said, “Two to three boys came to my hotel in the morning and asked that if I kept beef in the hotel. I replied yes. Later, the mahaldar asked me not to sell beef and continue my hotel in the area.”
Around 3 pm the same day, some youth came to my hotel and destroyed furniture and took away the gas cylinder. “They did not stop beating me even when the officer-in-charge tried to stop them,” Ali added.
The police have registered a case and arrested the prime accused, identified as Dipen Gogoi. The search is on to nab others, said Biswanath Superintendent of Police Rakesh Roshan.
Five others picked up in this connection were let go after they had signed a good behavior bond under Section 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Pabitra Ram Khound, Biswanath Deputy Commissioner said, “We held meetings with several organizations in relation to the incident. All condemned the incident. Biswanath is a symbol of the history of communal peace. Steps are being taken to ensure that there is no repetition of such incidents in the state.”
The All Assam Minorities Students’ Union a student body of the minorities on April 9 wrote to state Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal demanding stern action and judicial inquiry against the culprits behind the assault on Ali.
The Cattle Preservation Act of Assam, 1950, does not criminalize possession or consumption of beef. The Act merely lays down the conditions for slaughtering cattle. Beef is openly traded and consumed in Assam by more than 10 non-Muslim communities, including Christians.
The victim’s family members admitted that the eatery has had beef on the menu for decades while letting customers bring home-cooked meat too. “No one told us we could not sell beef. They could have served a notice instead of attacking my brother, and could have taken action officially if we did not comply,” said the victim’s brother.
He said the mob mostly comprised people from adjoining areas.
People have expressed concern over cow politics affecting Assam, a secular and multi-diverse state.
Cow vigilantism has become a key point of debate in the last five years under the Bharatiya Janata Party’s rule in the country. The last tenure of the Modi government has seen a spate of mob attacks across India. Since the BJP formed the government in 2014, a total of 122 incidents of cow-related violence took place in India.
According to indiaspend.com (a data journalism site), 86 percent of those people died in cow-related violence since 2010 were Muslim and 97 percent of the attacks took place after 2014.
The leader of the Opposition in Assam Legislative Assembly Debabrata Saikia has condemned the attack and demanded immediate intervention of the National Human Rights Commission over the incident.
,Sailen Kumar Sharma, president of Human Rights Forum, Tangla, an NGO based in Udalguri district of Assam, has also condemned the attack and appealed the government to punish the culprits. The NGO has further demanded a high level judicial inquiry into the matter and exhorted all y to maintain peace and keep faith in the judiciary.