Protests were held in cities across India on Wednesday against a wave of attacks on Muslims by mobs that accuse them of killing cows or eating beef, APA reports quoting Reuters.
The protests follow the stabbing to death last week of a 16-year-old boy accused of possessing beef on a train. Several people have been arrested. On Tuesday, a man was beaten and his house set on fire by a mob that accused him of slaughtering a cow in eastern Jharkhand state.
Waving "Not in My Name" banners and "Stop Cow Terrorism" placards, actors, writers and young mothers cradling babies braved monsoon rains in Mumbai, Kolkata and other cities, while in Delhi a cast of intellectuals and activists were joined by relatives of recent lynching victims.
"I feel afraid. I don't even know if I will be able to reach home safely," Bashruddin Khandawali, a 24-year-old cousin of Junaid Khan, who was killed last week on the train, told Reuters next to a huge "Lynch Map of India" banner.
Critics accuse right-wing Hindu groups, some linked to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party, of fomenting or not doing enough to stop violence against Muslims and lower-caste Hindus who eat beef or work in the meat and leather industries.
Modi denies the accusation and has publicly criticized so-called cow vigilantes.
Many Hindus worship the cow as sacred to their religion.
Almost all of the 63 attacks since 2010 involving cow-related violence were recorded after Modi and his Hindu nationalist government came to power in 2014, IndiaSpend, a data journalism website, said in a report.
Twenty-eight Indians - 24 of them Muslims - have been killed and 124 injured since 2010 in cow-related violence, IndiaSpend said.
Modi's information minister, Venkaiah Naidu, called the killing of Khan "atrocious" and said local authorities must take action.
Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a leading commentator, this week described the lynchings as "a protracted riot in slow motion".
"What makes this violence chilling ... is that it is acquiring an atmosphere of a religious communion about it," he wrote in the Indian Express.