Three taluks of Ernakulam district – Muvattupuzha, Kunnathunadu and Kothamangalam – observed a dawn-to-dusk shutdown on Wednesday as per a call given by Hindu organizations and Sangh Pariwar outfits to protest against the gruesome slaughter of the pregnant cow by slitting the throat.
The shutdown affected normal life in all the three taluks. Incidents of mild stone-pelting were reported from some places. The police had on Tuesday itself taken three persons – Muhammad (49), his son Anas (23) and Razid (18) – into custody in connection with the cow-slaughter. One person managed to flee the scene.
The police registered cases against the three Muslims under Section 120b (criminal conspiracy) and 153 A (inciting enmity between groups) of the IPC, police sources said. Investigations were on to find out if they deliberately wanted to create trouble, they added.
A member of the Sree Dharma Sastha temple committee expressed suspicion that the slaughter was perhaps not meant for meat but to stir up tension. “If they wanted the cow for meat they could have simply stolen it. That they committed the heinous act right in front of the temple has only one explanation – their intention was perhaps to create trouble,” he said.
As per police reports, Perumbavoor and the surrounding areas have witnessed a rise in Islamist operations recently. The place is just 25 km away from Muvattupuzha, where activists of Islamist organization Popular Front of India had cut off the right hand of a college professor on July 4, 2010 alleging that he had blasphemed Prophet Muhammad through a test paper for students.
The sacrilegious act of cow-slaughter took place late Tuesday afternoon after the three Muslims reached the temple compound pretending that they wanted to give medicine to the cow which had developed some health problems two days ago. The cow had wandered into the temple area about two weeks ago.
The three men then put up a screen in the temple compound (to conceal the slaughter from the people) with plastic sheets brought from a nearby building and slit the throat of the cow after one of them, a Moulvi from a nearby village, said the prayers which was mandatory as per customs of the community.
As news of the outrageous act spread, thousands of Hindus including activists of Sangh Pariwar outfits rushed to the temple and blocked the evil-doers from escaping. The arrival of some members of the Muslim community to justify the slaughter caused escalation in tension. One of those arrested was from among those who came to justify the act, said protestors.
The protesting devotees and local residents refused to allow the police to take away the evil-doers and the carcass of the cow, leading to tension that lasted for several hours. Though a team of police officials tried to calm the people down but the efforts did not succeed.
As the people refused to move away from the area even late in the evening, personnel of the Rapid Action Force and Quick Reaction Team were deployed. The police removed the carcass and the three persons from the scene after carrying out a lathi-large. Four police vehicles were damaged.
Devotees, temple committee members and activists of various Hindu organizations and Sangh Pariwar outfits held protest demonstrations in the temple area and the Perumbavoor town later. Tension escalated in the town as another demonstration was held by those who wanted to justify the slaughter.
An all-party meeting convened by the Ernakulam District Collector on Wednesday evening decided to hold a peace rally in Perumbavoor town on Thursday morning. The parties that took part in the meeting also came to an understanding that nobody would make provocative statements in connection with the incident.