India

India beef lynching: Police charge 15 suspects in Uttar Pradesh

A relative holds a photograph of slain Indian villager Mohammad Akhlaq at his home in the village of Bisada, Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mohammad Akhlaq was a farm worker

Indian police have filed charges against 15 suspects, including a juvenile, over the lynching of a Muslim man accused by Hindus of eating beef.

Mohammad Akhlaq was beaten to death by a mob in Dadri in Uttar Pradesh state in late September.

His son, 22, was badly injured and had to have hospital treatment.

The case sparked furious debate about religious tolerance in India, with some criticising the government for not immediately condemning the attack.

Daljeet Chaudhary, a senior police officer in Uttar Pradesh, told AFP news agency: "We have filed a charge sheet against 15 persons... It is a case of murder."

Two more suspects were arrested on Wednesday, while a further two suspects are still on the run, local media report.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Relatives mourning the death of Mohammad Akhlaq in the village

Mr Akhlaq, a farm worker, was asleep next to his son when a mob burst in wielding sticks, swords and pistols on 28 September.

The attack came after a loudspeaker announcement at a nearby temple said beef had been found in his home.

However, Mr Akhlaq's family, who are Muslim, denied consuming or storing beef - and forensic tests later confirmed that meat found in their fridge was goat meat.

Government ministers from the Hindu nationalist BJP have said the incident was a spontaneous expression of anger.

However, a panel from the National Commission for Minorities concluded that the lynching was premeditated and the temple had been used to plan the attack.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Several Indian states have banned cow slaughter

Slaughter of cows is a sensitive issue in India as the animal is considered sacred by Hindus, who comprise 80% of the country's 1.2bn people.

Uttar Pradesh is among a number of Indian states who have tightened laws banning cow slaughter and the sale and consumption of beef.

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