Alleged cow slaughter

Madhya Pradesh police book murdered man for cow slaughter before filing case against his attackers

His friend who survived Sunday’s beating may be arrested once doctors say he is fit. Four people have been arrested for the assault.

A 45-year-old Muslim man died and his friend was severely injured after they were assaulted by a group of men who accused them of cow slaughter, in Madhya Pradesh’s Satna district on Sunday. The police have registered two cases in connection with the incident. The first case was filed against the victims, charging them with cow slaughter. Later, a case of murder and attempt to murder was filed against the alleged assaulters.

The attack occurred early on Sunday when Shiraj Khan (wrongly identified as Riyaz Khan in police records and news reports) and his friend Shakeel, 38, were walking back to their homes in Maihar town of Satna district from a neighbouring village. They were stopped by a group of men in Amgar village – around 15 km away from Maihar – who accused them of killing a cow. The men beat Khan and Shakeel with sticks and wooden planks, the police said.

Khan was a tailor, while Shakeel works in a bicycle repair shop in Maihar. Their families said that the two men had gone to a neighbouring village to recover money that one of Khan’s clients owed him. After the assault, some residents of Amgar village spotted the two injured men and called the police. They were both taken to hospital, where Khan succumbed to his injuries. Shakeel is recuperating in a hospital in Jabalpur. Khan’s is survived by his wife and four children – three daughters and a son, all aged between four and 14 years.

Shakeel will be taken into custody once he is declared fit by doctors, a senior police officer said.

Superintendent of Police (Satna) Rajesh Hingankar said that the police had recovered the carcass of a bull and two packages of meat at the scene of the crime.

Shiraj Khan’s younger brother Imran Khan, however, questioned this claim. For one, he asked how the police were certain, without a forensic test, that the meat was that of a bull. Besides, he demanded to know how the authorities had concluded that Shiraj Khan and Shakeel had killed the bull. He said that it was possible that his brother and Shakeel were passing by and were attacked by the accused who were looking out for Muslim men to target.

Superintendent of Police Hingankar said that a preliminary investigation suggested that Shiraj Khan and Shakeel had slaughtered the bull for meat, and that the police had eyewitness testimony to this effect.

Recent tensions

Maihar, the home town of legendary sarod player Allauddin Khan, is considered a holy place by Hindus because of the presence of the ancient Sharda Devi temple.

The town has a Muslim population of around 14,000, which is less than 10% of the total population, said Nafees Khan, a social worker in Maihar. “The town had no recent history of communal tensions until December 2017,” he said.

On December 8, a group of men who claimed allegiance to Hindutva groups disrupted a celebration in a Muslim colony on Milad-ul-Nabi, the birthday of the Prophet Mohammad. Hindutva groups had organised a march in Maihar that day, during which a Bajrang Dal leader was beaten up by some Muslim men. Ten people from both communities were arrested in connection with the violence.

Nafees Khan said that after that incident, Hindutva groups had made it a point to spread messages through WhatsApp groups and at public meetings claiming that Muslims in Satna were illegally slaughtering cows. The Bajrang Dal leader who was beaten up had headed several such meetings, he said.

Four arrested

Shiraj Khan and Shakeel were booked under provisions of the Madhya Pradesh Cow Slaughter Ban Act, 2004, and the Madhya Pradesh Agriculture Cattle Preservation Act, 1959, the police said. In 2012, Madhya Pradesh amended its rules against cow slaughter and raised the maximum punishment from three years imprisonment to seven years imprisonment, with a fine of Rs 5,000.

Four people – Pawan Singh Gond, Vijay Singh Gond, Phool Singh Gond and Narayan Singh Gond – who were identified by Shakeel, were booked for murder and attempt to murder. They have been arrested, the police said.

The case against Shiraj Khan and Shakeel was registered on the basis of a complaint by Pawan Singh Gond, who told the police that some other villagers had attacked the two men after finding them in the act of slaughtering a bull. They then informed Gond and the other accused.

Security strengthened

The cases were registered at Badera Police Station. Officials at this police station, who did not wish to be identified, first told Scroll.in about the sequence in which the cases were registered. Sub-Divisional Officer of Police (Maihar) Arvind Tiwari confirmed that the case related to cow slaughter was registered first, and the other case relating to murder and attempt to murder was registered later.

Security was strengthened in and around Maihar after the incident. Tiwari said that the peace-keeping committee in the region had helped keep the peace. “Both parties belong to different places,” he said. “There is no probability of personal enmity as they did not know each other.

The police said that they are yet to establish whether the arrested men are linked to Hindutva groups.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.