Indian village bans Muslim names for children, public prayer and beards after row over dead calf 

An Indian village has banned Muslim practice including sporting beards, praying in public or giving children Islamic names. 

In the wake of the death of a female calf, allegedly at the hands of a Muslim boy, the elders council, or panchayat, in Titoli, Haryana, made the decree – while baring the youth from the village for life.

The panchayat, held in the Hindu-dominated village on Wednesday, also barred Muslim residents, numbering around 800, from offering nawaz (prayers) outside their homes.

A mob had attacked the house of a Muslim family in the village in August , accusing them of killing the calf. Two were arrested under the Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955. But it was unclear how or why the calf had been killed.

However, lawmakers in the north Indian state said they would look into the matter – despite the Muslim community of Titoli apparently respecting the diktat.

Indian Hindu devotees pass their daughter under a sacred cow to mark Krishna Janmashtami, a celebration of the Hindu deity KrishnaCredit:

Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Rohtak, Rakesh Kumar told The Hindu newspaper: “It is unconstitutional. I will speak to the village sarpanch (leader) in this connection.”

Rajbir, a local Muslim leader, said the community accepted the decisions of the tribal council to maintain harmony and that they were not austere Muslims any how.

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“We have been keeping Hindu names since Partition and do not wear skull caps or keep beards. Since there is no mosque in the village, we travel around 8-10 km to Rohtak city to offer namaz on Fridays and other occasions” said Rajbir, who goes by one name.

Residents’ Association president Suresh Nambardar, who was present at the meeting, said members of all castes and religious communities from the village were present.

He said apart from the decisions over the prayers and the youth, reportedly named as  Yameen, it was also decided that a plot of land in the middle of the village used for Islamic burials would be taken over by the panchayat and a plot given to Muslims outside the village for burials.

However, the tribal council made no ruling on other Muslim practices such as almsgiving (Zakat) and fasting during Ramadan (Sawm). 

Mr Suresh claimed Hindus and Muslims had been living in harmony in the village for several generations, and blamed "new settlers from Uttar Pradesh" for disturbing the peace.

A secular, alliance group, Ekta Manch, condemned the decisions. Its president, Shahzad Khan, said they were unconstitutional and that the Muslims were forced to accept their fate for fear of reprisals.

The district’s Deputy Commissioner of Police, Yash Garg, said that there was no report of any communal tension or resentment among the members of any community residing in the village.

“Still, if any such unconstitutional diktat has been passed by the panchayat, we will look into the matter and take appropriate action,” he added.