Almost two weeks after a Muslim man was beaten to death by a Hindu mob in India for allegedly butchering and eating a cow, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has finally spoken out against the action.
Heavily criticised due to his minimal response in recent days, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader labelled the violent actions ‘sad’ and ‘unwelcome’ during an interview with Bengali-language newspaper Anandabazar Patrika.
“The BJP has never supported such incidents,” he said. “The opposition accuses the BJP of communal politics every time, but actually they are the ones indulging in it.”
Many among India’s majority Hindu community regard cows as holy, yet beef is eaten by some followers of the faith in the south of the country, as well as those of the smaller Muslim and Christian communities.
Following the death of the villager earlier this month, politicians from the ruling BJP, including some ministers, have released statements seemingly in defence of the assailants who carried out the fatal attack.
Concerns about India’s religious intolerance have been raised by many following the incident, whilst Modi’s government continues to strive towards a nationwide ban on cow slaughter and the beef trade.
More than 20 writers in the country have returned awards in the last week in protest to the prime minister’s silence, whilst others have voiced their concerns on social media.
British-Indian novelist Salman Rushdie said on Tuesday via his Twitter account that he supported the writers during ‘alarming times for free expression’ in India.
Mumbai-born Rushdie, whose 1998 novel ‘The Satanic Verses’ is banned in India, accused Modi of allowing ‘thuggish violence’ by not strongly responding to the comments earlier.
Since becoming Prime Minister in May 2014, opposing parties have criticised the nation’s leader for failing to ‘rein in’ hardline Hindu nationalists.