NHRC orders Assam govt to pay ₹1 lakh to man thrashed by mob for selling beef

Rights panel acts on the basis of complaint by Congress MLA Debabrata Saikia

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has ordered the Assam government to pay ₹1 lakh to a 48-year-old man who was thrashed more than a year ago in Biswanath district for selling cooked beef at his tea stall at a weekly market.

The order was issued on the basis of a complaint filed by Congress MLA Debabrata Saikia, also the Leader of the Opposition in the 126-member Assembly, on April 12, 2019, five days after incident.

In its directive on September 16, the NHRC noted that neither had the Chief Secretary replied to a show-cause notice nor had the Director-General of Police of Assam submitted the action-taken report against the police officials at fault.

A mob had beaten up Shaukat Ali and allegedly forced him to eat pork in front of a few policemen for selling beef at the Madhupur weekly market in Biswanath Chariali town on April 7, 2019. The mob, which included a local Bharatiya Janata Party leader, also thrashed the contractor of the market for letting Mr. Ali sell the meat.

Consumption of beef is legal in Assam but cattle can be slaughtered only if a veterinary officer certifies that the animal is above 14 years of age. This is prescribed by the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950.

In separate letters to the Chief Secretary and the DGP on September 16, the NHRC said the failure of both to respond to its show-cause notice made it observe the government had nothing to shed light on.

“Therefore, the Commission confirms its recommendation and directs to the Chief Secretary, Government of Assam to release compensation amounting to ₹ 1,00,000 to the victim Shaukat Ali and submit a report along with proof of payment to the Commission within six weeks,” the letter from NHRC’s assistant registrar (law) said.

In the show-cause notice sent earlier, the NHRC noted “it is a case of violation of human rights of the victim for which the State is vicariously liable to compensate the victim”.

The panel also referred to a report that said a public servant was collecting revenue from the shopkeepers at the Madhupur market through some local unemployed youths “illegally”.

The incident had come to light after a video by one of the perpetrators of the attack on Mr. Ali went viral on social media. The police registered a case on April 8 after receiving a complaint from the victim’s brother Sahabuddin Ali.

In the video, members of the mob were heard asking the victim if he was a Bangladeshi and his name figured in the updated National Register of Citizens.

Mr. Ali had said that his family had been selling cooked beef at the market for more than 30 years without any issues earlier.

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