Washington, DC (August 16, 2018) — News of the recent murder of two Hindu sadhus, and the critical wounding of a third, at the Bhayanak Nath mandir in Kudarkot in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh left leaders at the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) at a loss. Media reports indicate that the gruesome attack was perpetrated by suspected cow smugglers in the region in revenge for the victims’ public opposition to their illicit trade.

Protests against the murders subsequently sparked mob violence which led to property damage in the area. Reports also indicate that the situation was quickly brought under control by local and state law enforcement officials. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered a expeditious investigation into the incident.

“The murder of sadhus protecting cows is despicable. This and all forms of vigilante violence, irrespective of the religious identity of the victims, are unacceptable and need to be unequivocally condemned,” said Suhag Shukla, HAF Executive Director. “It is essential that the state and central governments ensure law and order, and take effective steps to prevent such targeted killings and mob violence.”

The Foundation has similarly spoken out against vigilante violence against Muslims in India.

Shukla added that Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s announcement in July about the establishment of a commission to address the issue of mob violence was a welcome move by the Government. Its call on popular mobile phone application WhatsApp to do more to curb the dissemination of false and inflammatory propaganda was also an important first step to dealing with a problem that will require diverse strategies to tackle, she continued.

WhatsApp has already implemented restrictions to curb the spread of false rumors that have led to a few incidents of mob violence throughout India.

“These incidents of vigilante killings and mob violence in India are deeply concerning and are blot to India’s long standing record of religious pluralism,” concluded Shukla.