Published On: Thu, Dec 31st, 2015

Goat Meat, Not Beef, Found in Home of Mohammad Ikhlaq Killed Over Cow-Slaughter Rumors in India

Lyndon Johnson, India’s Modi and a cow named Bessie

By Suhasini Raj

Three months after an angry mob beat to death a Muslim man in the state of Uttar Pradesh after rumors that he had slaughtered a cow and consumed its meat, a preliminary investigation has found that the meat retrieved from his home was goat.

A handwritten report, dated Sept. 29, by a doctor at the Government Veterinary Hospital in Dadri, near the village of Bisada, where the victim, Mohammad Ikhlaq, lived, said, “It seems that this meat belongs to goat progeny.” The meat has been sent to another lab in the state for a final forensic test.

The findings were submitted with formal charges filed in a court in Gautam Budh Nagar District last Wednesday against 15 men in the village accused of murder and attempted murder, among other crimes. All 15 have been arrested.

The findings, which were initially reported by the local news media on Monday, were made available to The New York Times by Yusuf Saifi, the lawyer for Mr. Ikhlaq’s family. He said the examination was conducted in late September, when the police registered the case, but was submitted only when formal charges were filed last week.

Mr. Ikhlaq was killed after residents stormed his house following a public announcement over the loudspeaker of a Hindu temple that he had killed and eaten parts of a cow, villagers said. The cow is a holy symbol for Hindus, and its slaughter is banned in much of India, including Uttar Pradesh.

Mr. Ikhlaq and his son were brutally beaten and dragged from their house, and the father was declared dead hours after the attack.

The son, Danish, was hospitalized but recovered.

The Dadri lynching, as it came to be called, gave added weight to a fierce public debate over religious intolerance in India.

Local leaders of the governing Bharatiya Janata Party and activists opposed to the killing of cows criticized the police’s decision to bring murder charges. The Bharatiya Janata Party state president pointed to the police’s failure to adequately respond to the crime of cow slaughter.

Vishal Rana, the son of a local Bharatiya Janata Party member, was among those arrested.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi came under fire from critics, including the opposition Congress Party, who said that he had failed to immediately condemn the killing.

In mid-October, Mr. Modi told a Bengali newspaper that the episode in Dadri was “sad” and “undesirable,” but maintained that the central government had no role in such attacks.

Rules to protect cows have been tightened in at least two states since the election in 2014 of Mr. Modi, who warned during the campaign that his opponents would seek to vastly expand the slaughter of cows.

Anurag Singh, a senior police official in Dadri, confirmed the preliminary findings, and he said the final forensic results would be submitted in a supplementary filing.

Sangeet Som, a Bharatiya Janata Party lawmaker from Uttar Pradesh, refused to comment on the veterinary hospital’s report in an interview to the national newspaper The Hindu, but he criticized the state government, which is run by the Samajwadi Party.

“We do not have any faith in the state-supervised probe, which will never be independent and objective,” he said. “The person who died should get justice, but innocents should not be punished in this process.”

Mr. Ikhlaq’s family members have maintained that the meat they were eating before his death was goat. They fled the village after his death, and the findings only added to their sense of anger.

“Everyone is talking about the report now, but you tell me why should we have lied?” said Ikraman Ikhlaq, Mr. Ikhlaq’s widow, in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “We said then it was goat’s meat, and the truth is out now. It does not matter anymore. My husband is dead and gone, and our lives will never be the same again.”

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