Four arrested in India over riots sparked by cow slaughter rumours that left two dead
- Police say the main suspect, who is believed to be a member of a right-wing Hindu group that opposes cow slaughter, is still at large
Authorities in northern India have arrested four people for their involvement in an attack on police over rumours of cow slaughter that left two dead, including an officer.
Senior police officer Pravin Kumar said on Tuesday that a case had been filed against 28 people who set a police outpost on fire. A local police inspector and another man also died in the violence.
The incident took place on Monday in the city of Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh state – 300 kilometres southwest of Lucknow, the state capital. It began after beef and a few animal bones were found in a field in a village.
Cow slaughter is banned in parts of predominantly Hindu India, including Uttar Pradesh. The animals are considered holy by Hindus.
Kumar said police arrested four people and were looking for the main suspect, Yogesh Raj. While it was not clear if any hardline groups were behind the attack, Raj is alleged to be a member of right-wing Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a Hindu group that opposes cow slaughter and conversion of Hindus to Islam.
On Monday, the villagers blocked a road, demanding the responsible be arrested for slaughtering cows, Kumar said. When police asked them to lift the blockade, they attacked police.
“Soon, the protesters outnumbered police,” he said. “They snatched arms, mobiles and cartridges of police. The policemen retreated. Someone from the crowd opened fire that killed the police inspector.”
The crowd also torched a police outpost, police jeeps and a few private vehicles during the violence, he said.
Opposition parties have blamed the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for patronising hardliners in the name of protecting cows.