Cows are sacred to India’s Hindu majority. For Muslims who trade cattle, that means growing trouble

By Annie Gowen | The Washington Post

MAHABAN, India — In the year since an extremist Hindu monk was tapped to lead one of India’s biggest states, the country’s Muslim cattle traders have seen their lives change in ways they could not have imagined.

First, mobs of Hindu vigilantes emboldened by the monk’s victory began swarming buffalo trucks on the road, intent on finding smugglers illegally transporting cows, which are sacred to the Hindu faith and protected from slaughter in many places in India. Some Muslim men have been killed by lynch mobs, as recently as June 18.

Then dozens of slaughterhouses and 50,000 meat shops were closed, severely limiting access to red meat, a staple of the Muslim community’s diet. Hundreds from the Qureshi clan, Muslims in the meat trade for centuries, lost their jobs.