INP/AFP

NEW DELHI - The wife of an Indian Muslim man brutally murdered over rumours that he and his family had consumed beef said on Saturday that a group of boys in the village had called her son ‘Pakistani’ days before the lynching.

Three days before Mohammad Ahklaq’s death, his 22-year-old son Mohammed Danish told his mother that a group of boys in their village had called him “a Pakistani”, according to the Indian Express. “Some boys from the village were sitting near a shop that day. When they saw my son going to the mosque, they called him a Pakistani. They said, ‘Look, a Pakistani is living in this village. We will not tolerate this. The incidents of Muzaffarnagar will be repeated here’, Mohammed Akhlaq’s wife, Ikram, said.

In an FIR lodged by the family, Ikram recorded her statement with the police and said she had seen the faces of the attackers and could recognise them.

“They broke our household items, including the fridge. When my daughter and mother tried to intervene, they pushed them aside. We got so scared that we hid in a corner and we came out only when the police reached. Before leaving, they told us that if we told the police anything, they would kill our entire family,” she said.

A mob beat to death 50-year-old Akhlaq and severely injured his son, Danish, following rumours that he and his family had been consuming beef. Members of various political parties and outfits, distant relatives, police officials and the media had reached Bisara, but Akhlaq’s family felt “betrayed and abandoned” by neighbours and friends.

“My eldest son has a stable job in the Air Force while my younger son is pursuing graduation, hoping to join the Army. We have lived here for several decades but never faced any problems. Could they have been jealous because our financial condition was gradually improving as our children had started earning?” she asked. The house in Bisara was the only property that Akhlaq’s family claimed to own — a five-room structure with two refrigerators, a washing machine and a small TV set.

However, following the incident, Akhlaq’s family is now in search of another house as his daughter while demanding a CBI inquiry said “There is security deployment in the village right now but we are still scared to step out at night. What will happen once they leave? We cannot live here anymore.” Meanwhile Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Saturday met the family of Mohammad Akhlaq, He was accompanied by senior leaders Sanjay Singh and Ashutosh. Kejriwal, after meeting Akhlaq’s family, told reporters, “What has happened here is against humanity.” “Who benefited from this? Not the Hindus. Not the Muslims. Only political parties and political leaders benefited from this incident,” he added. Moreover, Indian police on Saturday arrested two more suspects in a mob murder of a Muslim man over rumours he had eaten beef, as debate mounted over communal intolerance under the Hindu nationalist government.

Mohammad Akhlaq, 50, was dragged from his house on the outskirts of the capital and beaten to death by around 100 people on Monday night over suspicions he had eaten beef — a taboo in the Hindu-majority nation.

Akhlaq’s 22-year-old son was also seriously injured in the attack in Bisada village in Uttar Pradesh state and has been undergoing treatment at a nearby hospital. “Total eight main accused (have been) arrested out of 10 named ones,” A. Satish Ganesh, a senior police official for Uttar Pradesh told AFP in a text message, without giving any further details. Police arrested six other suspects on Wednesday.

The case has fuelled concerns over perceptions religious intolerance is growing under the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party government. Calls have grown for nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak out on the case after colleagues in his party came under fire for appearing to trivialise the crime.

“If somebody says it was pre-planned, I don’t agree. It was an accident and investigations should happen,” junior culture minister Mahesh Sharma told reporters during a visit to the victim’s family on Friday. Hostile villagers attacked a media crew on Saturday, pelting stones and shattering their car windows. Rumours that the family had eaten beef began when a calf was reported missing in Dadri village, 35 kilometres (22 miles) from New Delhi.

Soon after a nearby temple made an announcement via loudspeaker that the family had consumed beef and within minutes the mob kicked down Akhlaq’s door and tore through his home before killing him. The victim’s family has maintained they had mutton in the fridge and not beef.

Killing cows is banned in many states of India, where the majority of the population is Hindu but which is also home to sizeable Muslim, Christian and Buddhist minorities. In March, the state of Maharashtra toughened its ban to make even possessing beef illegal, a move seen by religious minorities as a sign of the growing power of hardline Hindus since Modi came to power last year.