Family of Indian man killed by mob accused of cow slaughter

LUCKNOW: Nearly a year after a mob in northern India killed a Muslim man over rumours that he had slaughtered a cow, his family faces prosecution for alleged cow slaughter following a neighbour's complaint, police said Saturday.

Police registered a case of cow slaughter against Mohammad Akhlaq's family on Friday following a court order, said police officer Daljeet Singh.

The court acted on a forensic report that said the meat found in a dustbin outside the family's home was beef or the meat of "a cow or its progeny."

Hindus consider cows to be sacred, and for many, eating beef is taboo. The eating of beef is not a crime in Uttar Pradesh state, but slaughtering a cow carries a punishment of up to seven years in jail.

No arrests have been made so far. Yusuf Saifi, the family's attorney, said he would challenge the court's order.

The court is hearing a petition filed by the neighbour and backed by those accused of Akhlaq's murder alleging that his family had killed a calf and that his brother Jaan Mohammad was seen slitting the throat of the animal. It names seven members of the family, including Akhlaq's wife and mother.

The killing of Mohammed Akhlaq last September sparked furious debate about religious tolerance in India.

Akhlaq's family left the village after the attack and is living in New Delhi.

Hindus make up more than 80 percent of India's population of 1.25 billion, and many have reveled in Prime Minister Modi's championing of Hindu culture. Many Indian states banned cow slaughter long ago, and hard-liners want a national ban.

Violent protests have erupted at several places in recent months over rumours of cow slaughtering by Muslims. Near the Himalayan town of Shimla, a mob beat a man to death and injured four other people in October over rumours that they were smuggling cows.