Thousands gather in Jantar Mantar and other cities to protest against mob violence

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Friday, June 30, 2017

On Wednesday, thousands of citizens gathered in New Delhi's Jantar Mantar and other cities across India to protest against mob violence against minority communities of Muslims and Dalits, which has increased in recent years. Documentary film-maker Saba Dewan asked for "protest against the lynchings" via a Facebook post on June 24, after a teenage Muslim boy, Junaid Khan, and his brothers were reportedly racially abused, and Junaid allegedly stabbed and killed by a mob, after a dispute last week in Haryana.

About 2000 people gathered for the protest — Not in my Name — in the Indian capital, while several others protested in Bombay, Allahabad, Lucknow, Patna, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram, Chandigarh, Kochi, and Jaipur. There were protests held in London as well. The protests came after several instances where people were killed due to mob violence, the victims mostly from the minority communities of Muslims and Dalits. Protesters held placards with messages such as "No Place for Islamophobia", "Break the Silence", and "Shed Hate not Blood". Saba Dewan said, "the protest is against this systematic violence against Muslims and Dalits that is going on in our country at the moment". The protesters presented poems, songs and danced on stage on the Jantar Manter to express their views. Manish Sisodia, New Delhi's deputy chief minister, also took part in the protest. In Bombay, protesters were permitted till 7 PM.

"Shouldn't there be protests against the lynchings especially after the murder yesterday in Delhi NCR by a mob of a 16 year old Muslim boy? If not now then when? Why wait for political formations to organize a demonstration ? Why can't all of us as citizens repulsed by the violence get together in protest at the earliest next week at Jantar Mantar under the banner - Not in my Name", Dewan posted on Facebook.

Junaid's brother Hasseem said the people "were pointing at a packet which had food and saying we should not be allowed to sit since we were carrying beef" even though he told they were not carrying beef. The mob, reportedly threw Junaid's skull cap, and called them "beef eaters" and "anti-nationalists". About twenty people were involved in the violence. One man, who was held for the violence told NDTV he was "told by his friends to attack the Muslim boys because they ate beef". Police arrested four people on Wednesday accused for the violence, police superintendent Kamaldeep Goel told the Press Trust of India.

There have been several instances where people were harassed or killed due to mob violence. At least ten Muslims have been reported victims of the mob violence in the past two years, for beef consumption or transporting cows. Cow is considered sacred in Hinduism and many Hindus in the country view cow as a god or mother. Beef is banned in several states of India and a person found guilty for killing a cow can face a prison term up to ten years. But often, the "gau rakshaks" (cow protectors) have taken the law in their hands and lynched the accused. Some of the claims turned out to be false.

Though India is a secular state, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which shares Hindu nationalist views, vowed to ban beef across India. In 2015, ex-Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said, "Do I assault everyone who eats pork or alcohol?" after Rashid Ahmed was beaten by BJP members for serving beef in a private party. Pork and alcohol are considered haram and hence, their consumption is prohibited in Islam.

"Killing people in the name of 'gau bhakti' [cow devotion] is not acceptable", Modi said yesterday.


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