Indian govt condemns fatal train attack on Muslim teenager
Ravi Shankar Prasad is the first minister of the Indian government to speak out against the lynching episode. Photograph: (Zee News Network)
The Indian government has broken its silence over the lynching of a teenager on a train, more than four days after the incident occurred.
India's law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told an Indian news channel that the government wouldn't tolerate such attacks in the garb of protecting cows -- religious Hindus consider the animal to be sacred.
"It's very unfortunate that someone who was intoxicated - through him this was carried out...Our government will not tolerate this," the minister said, adding they have initiated a probe.
The minister made an oblique reference to various self-styled 'gau rakshak' groups (cow vigilantes) to abstain from violence. He alluded to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech last year that those "who indulge in violence in the name of gauraksha (protecting the cow), hit me instead".
Violence on train
Junaid Khan and his three others were travelling back to Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, by train after completing their Eid shopping in India's capital New Delhi when some 15-20 men picked up a fatal fight with them on Thursday afternoon.
It later emerged that one of members of the knife-wielding mob was inebriated when they picked up the fight over a train seat.
The mob reportedly shouted anti-Muslim disparages and alleged that Khan was carrying beef in one of the shopping packets.
The mob started beating Khan and the people who were with him despite them insisting that they weren't carrying cow meat.
Khan's brother Shakir was also severely wounded in the attack.
Last year, Narendra Modi had chastised cow vigilante groups and promised to crack down on them if they persisted with such attacks.
But Modi's entreaties has fallen on deaf ears as nearly a dozen Muslim men have been killed in the last two years by fringe cow vigilante groups.
The moderates in the country fear that the right-wing Narendra Modi administration has emboldened such groups to attack Muslims.
Prasad's comment on Monday is the first such statement coming out of the country's federal government.
The government's silence for over four days has been widely criticised by the moderates in the country.