After lynchings, India’s Modi condemns violence in name of cow worship

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Reuters




By Tommy Wilkes and Malini MenonNEW DELHI, June 29 (Reuters) - Indian Prime Minister
Narendra Modi on Thursday broke his silence over a wave of
attacks on people accused of eating beef or slaughtering cows,
saying that killing in the name of an animal sacred to majority
Hindus was wrong.
    Modi was speaking a week after a 16-year old Muslim boy was
stabbed to death on a train on suspicion of possessing beef, the
latest of an estimated 28 people killed in cow-related violence
since 2010.
    Most of the victims were killed after Modi and his Hindu
nationalist party won elections three years ago. [nL8N1JP1N3]
    "Killing people in the name of 'gau bhakti' is not
acceptable," he told a crowd at a Hindu ashram, or place of
meditation, referring to cow worship.
    "No person in this nation has the right to take the law in
his or her own hands," he said at the ashram dedicated to the
father of the nation and pacifist Mahatma Gandhi, in Modi's home
state of Gujarat.
    Modi said protecting cows was right, but it should be done
legally.
    The slaughter of cows is banned, and the consumption of beef
restricted, in most Indian states. But millions of people in the
minority Muslim and lower-caste Hindu communities depend on work
in the meat and leather industries.
    Since coming to power, Modi has found it difficult to
balance the competing demands of Hindu right-wing groups - some
linked to his party - intent on promoting a Hindu ideology and
protecting cows, and promoting development and an image of a
modern, secular India befitting its growing economic influence.
    On Wednesday, small protests were held in several cities to
denounce the lynchings and to pressure the government to do
more.

    'WE WANT ACTION'
    Critics and opposition politicians have accused Modi of
failing to condemn the violence and the so-called cow protection
groups, some with links to his party, accused of fomenting the
attacks, a charge the prime minister's Bharatiya Janata Party
denies.
    "I am glad that the prime minister finally came out and said
something, but it is not enough. We have to put our money where
our mouth is. We want action," said a senior leader of the
opposition Congress party, Renuka Chowdhury.
    "The ground reality is something else. What is the
government going to do? What action plan do they have ... Are we
to live in terror?" she asked.
    Vigilante groups that seize cows from people they accuse of
illegally transporting them, or sending them for slaughter, have
stepped up operations across India in recent years, rattling
members of religious minorities.
    Allegations that Modi will edge towards redefining India as
a Hindu nation were reignited in March when he appointed a
hardline Hindu priest as the chief minister of India's most
populous state.
    Yogi Adityanath, who has since launched a crackdown on
illegal abattoirs, has a history of agitation against Muslims.
[nL3N1GW0DW]
    Modi's party has consistently said it does not make any
distinction between citizens on the basis of religion.
    Muslims make up 14 percent of India's 1.3 billion people.

 (Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)
 ((thomas.wilkes@tr.com; Reuters Messaging:
thomas.wilkes.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: INDIA POLITICS/RELIGION (PIX)








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