Man shot dead over allegation of smuggling cows in Kashmir
SRINAGAR, India — A Muslim man was shot and killed and another injured by Hindu vigilantes on Thursday in Indian-controlled Kashmir over allegations of smuggling cows.
A group of Hindu men intercepted the two Muslims in the outskirts of southeastern Bhaderwah town before dawn and shot at them after an altercation, police said. A 50-year-old man died while another man was injured. Residents say the attack was carried out by so-called cow vigilantes.
The injured man, Yasin Hussain, told reporters the two were taking with them three horses, not cows. He said at least eight men intercepted them, hurled abuses and without checking the animals, fired shots at them.
Nayeem Ahmed Shah was hit in the head and died on the spot, Hussain said, adding the attackers fled.
Shortly after the incident, the victims’ families and their neighbors took to the streets demanding the arrest of the attackers. As more people assembled, the protesters attacked a police station with stones and damaged vehicles. Police fired tear gas and bullets in the air as a warning to quell the protests.
Authorities later imposed a curfew in Bhaderwah to prevent violence between Hindus and Muslims.
Local police officer Shabir Ahmed Malik said police registered a murder case and detained at least seven people for questioning.
Hindus consider cows sacred, and slaughtering them or eating beef is illegal or restricted across much of India. Mob attacks on minority groups, especially Muslims, have been on the rise in India since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.
The victims of cow vigilantes have been accused of either smuggling cows for slaughter or carrying beef. In such mob attacks, at least 20 people have been killed by groups mostly believed to be tied to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP.
In Kashmir, anti-India sentiment runs deep among mostly Muslim residents. Despite outright ban on the cow slaughter, dozens of shops selling beef openly operate in the disputed region’s main city of Srinagar and other Muslim-majority areas.