Head of India's BJP 'rebukes politicians' in beef row

An activist shouts slogans during a protest against the killing of a 52-year-old Muslim farmer Mohammad Akhlaq over rumours he was storing beef Image copyright AP
Image caption The issue has provoked heated protests from those outraged at the killings, as well as those who want tighter restrictions on beef consumption

The head of India's governing BJP party, Amit Shah, has reportedly rebuked four BJP politicians for making controversial statements about beef.

One of them had remarked that those eating beef should be executed, even though it is not illegal.

In recent weeks three Muslim men have been killed by Hindus accusing them of eating or smuggling beef.

Most Hindus believe cows are sacred but many do eat beef, as do Muslims and Christians.

Another of those believed to have been scolded by Mr Shah had dismissed the lynching of a Muslim man accused of eating beef as an "accident".

Mohammad Akhlaq was lynched in the town of Dadri in the province of Uttar Pradesh last month.

In the past week two other Muslims have been killed in Hindu nationalist violence over the issue.

Angered at this and other Hindu nationalist trends, in recent weeks more than 20 Indian writers have relinquished their literary awards.

They allege India's secular nature is under threat from the Hindu nationalist BJP government, the BBC's Charles Haviland reports.

But Prime Minister Narendra Modi says his administration is not to blame for the deaths and has accused the opposition of indulging in what he calls "the politics of polarisation".

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