Biswanath district police, however, said it was ‘not a matter of communal tension’, as the mob had misbehaved with a man from another community too.
A mob in Biswanath district of Assam on Sunday heckled and abused a Muslim man for allegedly selling beef, reports said. The man was identified as Shaukat Ali by the police.
In a video doing the rounds on social media, Ali is seen kneeling down in slush, surrounded by an irate mob, which demands to know why he was selling beef. “Do you have a license to sell beef?” the mob can be heard asking in the video.
The mob is then seen questioning Ali about his nationality. “Are you Bangladeshi? Is your name in the NRC [National Register of Citizens]?” Assam is currently updating its National Register of Citizens in a bid to identify foreigners from citizens.
Attention @sarbanandsonwal This old man was beaten up in Bishwanath Charialifor selling beef. Beef is not banned in Assam and the northeast. Many communities apart from Muslims consume beef. But interestingly self appointed gaurakshaks find only poor Muslim traders to harass. pic.twitter.com/I7lg1YMKu0
— Berojgar BeingMuzakki (@Muzakki82091009) April 8, 2019
The mob allegedly also forced Ali to consume pork and asked him if the market’s mahaldar, or manager, knew that he was selling beef. According to the district police, the mob then went on to misbehave with the mahaldar, Kamal Thapa, as well.
A First Information Report has been filed against “unknown miscreants” based on two separate complaints filed by one of Ali’s relatives and Thapa, the police said. Biswanath district police chief Rakesh Roushan, however, said it was “not a matter of communal tension”. “The miscreants misbehaved with not only him, but also another person of a different community,” said Roushan.
Assam has a complex and somewhat ambiguous law on cattle slaughter. The Assam Cattle Preservation Act of 1950 allows the slaughter of cattle over 14 years of age or those incapable of work or for use in breeding. The law stipulates that such cattle will be given a “fit-for-slaughter certificate” by a doctor of the state husbandry and animal welfare department. Unlike many other Indian states, the law in Assam does not distinguish between buffaloes and cows or bulls.