DADRI: A forensic test has revealed that the family of Dadri lynching victim Muhammad Akhlaq had been storing mutton in their fridge and not beef as suggested by a mob which had last week beaten the man and his son on the pretext of their family's rumoured consumption of beef, Times of India reported.
Akhlaq, a 50-year-old man was beaten to death, while his 22-year-old son was severely injured after it was rumoured that the family had been storing and consuming beef, police said at the time.
Indian Express had reported that Akhlaq and his son were beaten allegedly by residents of Bisara village. The attack on the family occurred around 10pm on Sept 28 after a local temple allegedly announced the family had been consuming beef.
However, the TOI has now quoted a government official as saying that the meat in Akhlaq's house was mutton and not beef.
"On the night of September 28, police had collected a sample of the meat from Akhlaq's house in Bisara and sent it to a vet for preliminary testing. These tests had suggested it was mutton, but the police chose to be doubly sure and sent the sample to a lab in Mathura for a conclusive test. And that report also confirmed it was mutton," the unnamed official told TOI.
The report also stated there was no need to test the meat, as whether it was mutton or beef had little bearing on the crime.
Akhlaq's 18-year-old daughter Sajida had earlier said the family kept "mutton in the fridge", not beef.
She said a group of over 100 villagers arrived at the family's home. "They accused us of keeping cow meat, broke down our doors and started beating my father and brother."
"My father was dragged outside the house and beaten with bricks. We came to know later that an announcement had been made from the temple about us eating beef," she said.
A case of rioting and murder had been registered against at least 10 people, out of which six had already been arrested. There had been no mention of beef in the First Information Report (FIR).
With criticism mounting across India on the incident, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an election rally for the upcoming Bihar polls has called for religious unity. Without referring specifically to the attack, he said India would only prosper "when Hindus and Muslims unite and fight" against poverty instead of against each other.
Several of Modi's own ministers have stopped short of condemning the Dadri attack, fuelling concerns among religious minorities of an erosion of rights in the world's biggest democracy, and emboldening Hindu hardliners.
Cows are considered sacred by most Hindus in officially secular India whose millions of Muslims and other minorities eat beef as a source of protein.
President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday called for India's tradition of tolerance to be upheld, in what was seen as an attempt to calm raging anger over the issue.
Modi's comments come just hours after legislators from his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) punched and shoved an opposition Muslim member in a state parliament over eating beef.
Modi's party, which came to power in May 2014, wants a nationwide ban on the slaughter of cows, which is prohibited in some but not all states. India is the world's biggest exporter of buffalo meat, an industry mainly run by Muslims.
Modi's BJP colleagues have came under fire for appearing to trivialise Akhlaq's murder.
"If somebody says it was pre-planned, I don't agree. It was an accident and investigations should happen," Modi's culture minister Mahesh Sharma told reporters during a visit to the victim's family last week.
Commentators have also warned of an emboldening of Hindu hardliners since Modi came to power, with vigilante gangs increasingly campaigning against Muslims.