MP government on backfoot on 'beef' assault on 2 Muslim women
The controversy over Dalit beatings in Gujarat's Una has not yet subsided. And, now there is more embarrassment in store for the BJP.
In yet another incident of vandalism in the name of cow protection, two Muslim women were assaulted at the Mandsaur railway station in Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday.
The activists of Hindu right wing groups purportedly carried out the attack on suspicion that the victims were carrying beef.
In a separate case, two other Muslim women were arrested in Ratlam over similar charges after VHP activists lodged a complaint against them.
Both the incidents gathered storm on Wednesday as the issue resonated in the state Assembly as well in Rajya Sabha.
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Congress have alleged Dalits and Muslims were being targeted under the ruse of protecting the cows.
On thin ice
Meanwhile, the Madhya Pradesh government appears to be on the back foot on the controversy. It has claimed buffalo meat was seized from the women in Mandsaur while the samples of the meat have been sent to a laboratory in Mathura in Ratlam case.
"Though, prima facie it appears to be beef,'' The Indian Express quoted Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Bhupendra Singh as saying.
Both the incidents attracted nationwide outrage as the video of the cow vigilantes roughing up of the women by Hindu group activists went viral on the social media.
The Congress and the BSP questioned the government over the issue in Rajya Sabha.
Accusing the MP government of condoning the Hindu fringe elements, Congress leaders Anand Sharma and Ghulam Nabi Azad stressed there should be no injustice on Dalits and Muslims in the name of cow protection.
Mayawati echoed similar sentiments while addressing the Upper House.
Pointing out that Dalits are thrashed merely on the suspicion of possessing beef, she demanded an answer from the Modi government.
The Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi tried to assuage the sentiments of opposition leaders by assuring that the state government would take all necessary actions.
And more trouble
The issue also rattled the proceedings in the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha.
In a veiled reference to the ensuing UP state polls, the Congress MLA Arif Aqeel said the "winds blowing in UP are now affecting the state."
Noting that the meat recovered from women in Mandsaur was found to be that of a buffalo, Aqeel alleged the victims were falsely framed and requested the Speaker Dr Sitasharan Sharma to act against the conspirators.
Responding to the opposition attack, BJP MLA Yashpal Sisodia claimed that women belonging to a certain community indulge in the illegal smuggling of beef from Jaora and sell it at Mandsaur. "The issue should not be communalised," Sisodia added.
On Tuesday, the train running from Ratlam to Chittor reached Mandsaur railway station at about 10.30 am.
Salma Mewati and Shamim Hussain, both residents of Khanpura, alighted from the train with meat. The activists of Hindu groups were already present on the station.
They surrounded both the women as soon as they came out of their coaches. The commotion started with sloganeering but soon turned into violence against Salma and Shamim. The women kept repeating in the melee that they were innocent.
Soon, the police reached the spot and seized 30 kg meat from the women. According to SHO MP Singh Parihar, the court has sent both the accused to the jail.
Four cases of illegal meat smuggling are already pending against Salma, while Shamim is an accused in three such cases.
Separately, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists were tipped off about two women carrying beef. They informed the Dhodhar police, which arrested the women with 20 kg meat in possession of each of them.
"We suspect the meat recovered in Ratlam was beef. Whereas, buffalo meat was seized in Mandsaur. But, the meat was being illegally smuggled in both the cases. The women have been arrested. The samples of the meat in the Ratlam case have been sent for tests," said Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Bhupendra Singh.