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India not prosecuting cow protection vigilantes: US

New York, May 30: The US has accused Indian authorities of not prosecuting cow protection vigilantes attacking Muslims suspected of slaughtering the animals or consuming beef amid “reports of hundreds of religiously motivated killings.” The State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report released on Tuesday said: “Authorities often did not prosecute violence by vigilantes against persons, mostly Muslims, suspected of slaughtering or illegally transporting cows or trading in or consuming beef.”

It added, “There were reports of hundreds of religiously motivated killings, assaults, riots, restrictions on the right to practice religion and proselytise, discrimination, and attacks on property. Groups most frequently targeted were Muslims and Christians. “Cow protection groups, many of whose members believed cow slaughter and eating beef were an attack on the Hindu deities representing motherhood, carried out several violent attacks, including killings, beatings, harassment, and intimidation against consumers of beef or those involved in the beef industry,” according to the report.

“Members of civil society and religious minorities said, under the current government, religious minority communities felt more vulnerable to Hindu nationalist groups engaging in violence against non-Hindu individuals and places of worship,” the reported said. The report, however, also noted that the Supreme Court directed state governments to appoint a senior police officer in each district to prevent and respond effectively to incidents of “cow vigilantism” and chief secretaries to report on actions taken to prevent them.

The annual report was a long compilation of mainly news reports about legislative measures considered against minority interests or incidents of violence against or harassment of minorities. At a news conference on the report for foreign journalists, the State Department official in charge of the report, Samuel Brownback, denounced India, alleging that “there have been unfortunately a lot of religious violence that has taken place in various communities.” “We have asked the Indian government to pursue more safety to see justice taking place in these cases where these arise and we will continue to pursue that with the Indian government as with all government all around the world,” he said.
“I get reports directly from individuals that are coming from India (about) violence they have experience because of who they are in their faith, and that is wrong,” said Brownback, who is a convert to Catholicism from a fundamentalist Christian sect. (IANS)

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