The lynching of a Muslim man over beef eating rumours in India was premeditated, according to the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) which probed the incident. "The facts as reported to the NCM team point strongly that the whole episode was the result of planning in which a sacred place like temple was used for exhorting people of one community to attack a hapless family," says the report prepared by a three-member team of the NCM, a government-backed body.
Mohammad Akhlaq, 50, was hacked to death by a violent Hindu mob on suspicion of having consumed beef on 28 September in the village of Bisada in north India. According to the NCM report, the rumour was spread by a certain group at a Hindu temple in the village where they claimed a calf had been slaughtered. From there, rumours of Akhlaq's family having consumed beef were spread in the village by the same group after which Akhlaq's family was attacked. Forensic reports later showed the meat found in Akhlaq's house to be of a goat and not beef.
Last week, a minister in the Narendra Modi-led government, Mahesh Sharma, had described the lynching of the man as an "accident". The report, without naming him, makes clear that it was quite an "understatement" to claim that the killing was merely an accident.
Many politicians have been flocking to the village making provocative speeches raising tensions. The NCM has stated that providing security to Muslim families in the affected village is imperative and all efforts have to be made to fast track police investigation so that the guilty are brought to book quickly.
The commission is critical of the government's intelligence apparatus saying intelligence gathering no longer appears to exist. It also seeks curbs on dissemination of hate messages on social media which, the NCM believes, is being used to whip up communal passions.
Although Akhlaq's death has sparked outrage, it has not stopped more such incidents taking place. Two more deaths, one in Kashmir and the other in Himachal Pradesh, took place over rumours that individuals were smuggling cows. Barring a few states, slaughter of cows has been banned in India as the animal is considered sacred by Hindus who constitute more than 70% of India's population.