Aftermath of the Adityanath Ascension
Butcher shops razed amid crackdown on beef in Uttar Pradesh town
; NEW DELHI
Wednesday they were not
ruling out arson after fire
gutted three butcher shops
in Uttar Pradesh state,
The meat industry is a magnet
for religious violence in India,
where Hindus consider cows
sacred and accusations of beef
being sold by Muslims can trig-
ger violent mob reprisals.
Police were investigating the
“mysterious” overnight blaze
that reduced the three butcher
shops to ashes in Hathras district, local police chief Dilip
Kumar told AFP.
“We are not ruling out anything,” he said.
The fire comes just days after
a hardline Hindu priest-turned-politician took control of Uttar
Pradesh, India’s largest state
with a bloody history of violence
between Hindus and Muslims.
Yogi Adityanath is known for
his polarising and inflammatory
speeches against Muslims, and
has called for harsher penalties
for the slaughter of cows, which
is already illegal in most Indian
He was chosen to lead Uttar
Pradesh after Prime Minister
Narendra Modi’s right-wing
Bharatiya Janata Party swept
state polls earlier this month, in
part on a pledge to close unlicensed traders and illegal beef
India is a significant global
exporter of meat from buffalos,
which are not seen as sacred
beasts, with Uttar Pradesh housing half the country’s abattoirs.
But most butcher shops in the
powder-keg state are run by
Muslims, and Hindu hardliners
have alleged that beef is being
passed off as buffalo.
Sense of fear
Since the BJP’s thumping
election victory less than a fortnight ago, dozens of butcher
shops have been sealed off
across the state in what authorities say is a crackdown on unlicensed vendors.
Meat traders fear legitimate
businesses could be swept up in
“The way the entire issue is
being twisted is hurting our business. There is fear in the minds
of the public,” said Imran
Qureshi, whose abattoir in Uttar
Pradesh exports buffalo meat to
Europe and the Middle East.
Only eight of India’s 29 states
allow cow slaughter. The rest
have slowly stiffened penalties,
including life imprisonment, as
Hindu hardliners agitate for a
Modi’s home state of Gujarat
Wednesday proposed raising the
penalty for cow slaughter to ten
Millions from India’s huge
minority populations ; including Muslims, Christians and
lower-caste Hindus ; eat beef,
although it is not widely available.
India has witnessed a rise in
vigilantism by Hindu extremists
since Modi ; whose right-wing
party is strongly aligned to
Hindu nationalist groups ; was
voted to power in 2014.
Armed gangs have been
known to enforce an unofficial
beef ban in some parts, forcibly
inspecting trucks for any sign of
livestock or carcasses. Drivers
accused of transporting cows to
slaughterhouses have been
Even rumours of transgres-
sion can spar deadly violence. In
2015 a 50-year-old Muslim man
accused of eating beef was
dragged from his home in 2015
and beaten to death by a mob.
Police later said it was mutton.
Left, Cattle for sale at a market in Savda,
India, May 3, 2015. The sale and slaughter
of cattle too old for labor has long been
a vital source of income for Indian
farmers, and a regional ban on such
sales passed by Hindu nationalists has
hurt countless Maharashtran farmers.
Below, Buffalo meat for sale at a
struggling shop in Mumbai, May 1, 2015.
Wednesday jailed two
Hindu extremists for
life over a deadly bombing at
a Sufi shrine that has a huge
following amongst both
Muslims and Hindus.
Police had initially blamed
extremists for the 2007 attack
on the revered 12th-century
Sufi shrine at Ajmer in the
western state of Rajasthan,
which killed three people and
But earlier this month a
special court in Rajasthan
found Devendra Gupta and
Bhavesh Patel guilty, the first
time in living memory that
Hindu radicals have been
convicted for such a crime.
A third man who was shot
dead in the months after the
attack and then tried
posthumously was also
All three were convicted on
charges related to explosives
and conspiracy to commit
unlawful acts over the blast,
which came just before the
Muslim festival of Eid.
Magistrate Dinesh Kumar
Gupta pronounced sentence
Special public prosecutor
Ashwini Sharma said their
motive was to create
“Their motive was to hurt
religious sentiments of
Muslims during the month of
Ramzan (Ramadan) by the
bomb blast,” Sharma said.
Gupta and Patel’s lawyer
J.S. Rana told journalists they
would appeal the verdict in a
India Jails Hindu Radicals for
Life Over Shrine Blast
INDIA ABROAD March 31, 2017 27 INDIA