Assam beef incident heats up the atmosphere ahead of Polls: A detailed report

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Assam beef incident heats up the atmosphere ahead of Polls: A detailed report

G Plus News | April 09, 2019 14:05 hrs

GUWAHATI: On April 7, a man by the name of Shaukat Ali (68), a longtime resident of Biswanath Chariali, Assam was heckled and attacked by a mob for allegedly selling beef. He was thrashed and forced to eat meat, suspected to be pork, in an effort to hurt his religious sentiments. The attack reportedly took place when Shaukat was on his way to his ‘line-hotel’ where he has been selling rice and meat for over 30 years. A video of the incident has gone viral on social media and has gained a lot of traction. 

Based on these reports, the police arrested one person on Monday night after the video surfaced online and two FIRs were filed, one from Ali’s family and another from Kamal Thapa, the mahaldar (manager) of the market. 
It has also been reported that some people from the mob who had attacked Ali on Sunday had confronted him a few days before this incident and a heated argument broke out between them.

In the same video, it is noteworthy that a few from the mob were also heard asking Shaukat if he was a ‘Bangladeshi’ and whether his name has been included in the NRC – two burning topics which have plagued Assam perpetually and even more so recently due to the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill and the resentment against it from many parts in the State.

While this incident has been deemed as an act of communal violence by many, Biswanath district police chief, Rakesh Roushan has denied such insinuations and highlighted that fact that the miscreants had misbehaved with not only Ali but also Thapa, who is a Hindu.

As the investigations are on, certain sections have also attempted to draw a relationship between the incident and the internal bickering that has been going on in the BJP due to the denial of ticket for current MP, R.P. Sarmah. In his place, current Cabinet Minister Pallab Lochan Das has been chosen to stand for the Tezpur LS seat.

Generally perceived as a tolerant and communally insensitive state, Assam has seen an increase in such cases of such cow-vigilantism and this is the second beef-related incident that has taken place in the state.
 
Earlier, in April 2017, three people, including a minor were arrested by Jorhat police for possession of beef which was meant for consumption. They were detained following a complaint by a local BJP leader who accused them of hurting religious sentiments of locals in that area. However, they were released as possession of beef for consumption is not a criminal offence under Assam’s Cattle Preservation Act, 1950. 

The Act only allows the slaughter of cows who are 14 years old or incapable of breeding. According to provisions in the act, a license or fitness for slaughter certificate has to be granted by a veterinary doctor. However, consuming or selling beef is not an offence.

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Shaukat Ali

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