January 16, 2016

India : Couple assaulted over suspicion of carrying beef on train speak out [Video]

Hindustan Times

Video: Couple assaulted over suspicion of carrying beef speak out

HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times, Bhopal/Harda | Updated: Jan 15, 2016 17:02 IST

Mohammed Husain and wife Naseema Bi were travelling on Wednesday from Khandwa to hometown Harda on the Kushinagar Express. (HT Photo)

Hindu right-wing activists belonging to a cow protection group allegedly assaulted a Muslim couple on a train in Madhya Pradesh on the suspicion of carrying beef, which was in fact buffalo meat found in another passenger’s luggage.

Police said that a laboratory test confirmed it was not beef but buffalo meat and the bag containing the “suspected item” didn’t belong to the couple — Mohammed Husain and wife Naseema Bi who were travelling on Wednesday from Khandwa to hometown Harda on the Kushinagar Express.

When they reached Khirkiya railway station, about 150km south of Bhopal and about 35km from the couple’s destination, the activists boarded the train and demanded to search their luggage for beef.

The activists turned violent and started to kick and punch when the couple protested and denied carrying beef. They also started throwing their luggage onto the platform, police said quoting witnesses. In the process, bags of some other passengers were thrown out too.

This led to a two-hour altercation and the activists were “taught a lesson” by a group of people who had gathered at the railway station after hearing the commotion.

“About four men boarded our coach fist and others joined them later. They started pushing and manhandling passengers, including my husband sitting next to the door. They pushed me as well when I objected. We told them we were not carrying beef or any meat and knew nothing if something else did. Still they threw out our bags. We were very scared,” Naseema told Hindustan Times.

Watch | Woman who was assaulted speaks out

Husain alleged that the activists assaulted him.

The couple said they were on their way to Harda from Hyderabad but stayed overnight at a relative’s place in Khandwa.

Police have picked up nine people, including some men who fought with the activists, but the owner of the bag containing the meat has escaped.

Additional superintendent of police Kiranlata Kerketta said two FIRs were lodged against two groups that scuffled at the station while a third FIR was lodged against “unknown persons” carrying the buffalo meat.

According to Madhya Pradesh law, cow slaughter can lead an offender to seven years in jail but there is no ban on the killing of buffaloes.

Hoshangabad inspector general of police Satish Saxena advised people to exercise caution because such flare-ups could lead to riots. “The activists as well as passengers could have taken police help. Police were there and took action against people who entered the compartment and indulged in excesses.”

The incident was reminiscent of the growing intolerance in the country over people’s food habits, especially beef, which manifested in the lynching of a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh over suspected cow slaughter last September.