AN Indian court sentenced 11 so-called “cow vigilantes” to life imprisonment on Wednesday for lynching a Muslim trader they suspected of transporting beef.
The ruling in the state of Jharkhand is the first instance of conviction and sentencing in a case of cow vigilantism, according to The New Indian Express.
The men were part of a mob that pulled Alimuddin Ansari from his vehicle, beat him to death and then set the car on fire in a pre-planned attack on June 29, 2017.
Videos of the crime showed the men thrashing Ansari with pieces of meat while the car burned nearby. The trader was attacked for allegedly carrying beef in his van.
The lynching occurred just hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned against such attacks by vigilante group, saying the killing of people in the name of protecting cows was unacceptable.
Ansari’s wife, Mariam Khatun, welcomed the judgement, telling reporters outside the courtroom: “The death of my husband came as an irreparable loss. The accused deserved nothing less.”
Ansari’s lynching followed a string of similar attacks in Jharkhand last year. Extremist Hindu groups, many of which claim to be affiliated with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have been implicated in a wave of attacks on Muslims and low-caste Hindus carried out in the name of the cow, which many Hindus regard as sacred.
In a bid to stop widespread criticism for their lack of action, the state government warned officers-in-charge of police stations that they would be held responsible for any such incident taking place in their jurisdiction.