Justice for Mohammad Akhlaq

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On this auspicious day – Gandhi Jayanti (Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday) and International Day of Non-Violence – my colleagues and I at Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus are heartbroken to read the news that a Muslim man, Mohammad Akhlaq, was lynched and murdered by a Hindu mob in Northern India because it was rumored that he killed and cow and consumed the meat. News reports claim that a mob of Hindus wielding bricks, batons, and swords came to the man’s house to hunt him down, beat him to death and severely injure his son and mother.
We have faith that the majority of Hindus do not condone such acts of brutality, but it is very important that we speak up as Hindus and show these extremists that they do not represent us. Gandhiji himself spoke directly about this issuein 1947:

“I have been long pledged to serve the cow but how can my religion also be the religion of the rest of the Indians? It will mean coercion against those Indians who are not Hindus.”

The Hinduism of this murderous mob is not a Hinduism that we recognize or embrace. Our bhakti teaches us that we are all one regardless of race, religion, caste, or gender. Our belief that the whole world, including cows and all species, is interconnected and divine should guide us to treat the whole planet with love and compassion; it should not lead us to perpetrate such acts of brutality. We vehemently denounce all terrorism perpetrated in the name of our religion. Let us speak up for the Hinduism that we know and love: the faith that we are all one, and that violence to one is violence to all.
Hindu brothers and sisters, please sign our petition asking for justice for Mohammed Akhlaq. And all readers, please share the petition far and wide.

Sunita Viswanath is co-founder of Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus, a NY-based coalitionseeking to mobilize people of Hindu faith worldwide to positively focus on and assert principles of tolerance and inclusiveness, ahimsa (non-violence), and sadhana (faith in action) which can be found throughout Hindu philosophy, culture, history, and in Hindu religious practice.