Facing growing public sentiment from Hindus that Indian citizens who eat beef must be punished, the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, has ordered leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party to stop condoning the violence against and mistreatment of those who eat beef.
For Hindus, who make up the majority of India’s population, the cow is considered a sacred animal. Non-Hindus, like Muslims, have meanwhile faced increasingly vicious pressure to abstain as well.
The BJP, Modi’s own political party and a staunchly Hindu nationalist group, has been accused lately of “making statements that could be seen as condoning bigotry or violence against people who eat beef,” according to The New York Times. A number of BJP members have even been called the “beef brigade” for their remarks criticizing those who eat beef, and excusing those who punish them.
During October alone, three people have died after being attacked by Hindus who suspected them of eating meat. In one instance, a Muslim farmer was killed by a crowd of people, and the rest of his family badly injured.
The man’s daughter later explained to police that their refrigerator contained only mutton, or sheep meat. Days later, India’s culture minister, a BJP member, called the killing “an accident.”