New York, Feb 20 : The Indian government should prevent and prosecute mob violence by vigilante groups targeting minorities in the name of so-called cow protection, Human Rights Watch has said.
A 104-page report, "Violent Cow Protection in India: Vigilante Groups Attack Minorities," describes the use of "communal rhetoric" by members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to spur a violent vigilante campaign against consumption of beef and those engaged in the cattle trade.
Between May 2015 and December 2018, at least 44 people - including 36 Muslims - were killed in such attacks, the report said. It added that police often stalled prosecutions of the attackers while several BJP politicians publicly justified the attacks.
"Calls for cow protection may have started out as a way to attract Hindu votes, but it has transformed into a free pass for mobs to violently attack and kill minority group members," said Human Rights Watch.
"Indian authorities should stop egging on or justifying these attacks, blaming victims, or protecting the culprits."