Image copyright Instagram Image caption Critics say Farzana Riaz has yet to express regret for her part in an online anti-Muslim campaign
Pushed out of her family home by radical Muslims for opposing one of their members, a Sikh woman is living in fear for her life, and is now taking action to secure her safety.
Punjab administrator Captain Preneet Kaur said she had been “very disturbed” by reports about Farzana Riaz, a social media executive who faced serious calls to be arrested for allegedly spreading hate speech.
She told the BBC the administrator of a Facebook page showing footage of burning cow carcasses would be asked to step down from her position after his suspension.
Ms Riaz had posted a video of the killing of a cow after it was filmed being killed by a herd of Muslim men. The call for police to launch an investigation followed condemnation by opponents of the government’s controversial law banning the slaughter of cows.
Image copyright Instagram Image caption Captain Preneet Kaur tweeted out an image of Ms Riaz’s suspended Facebook account
Image copyright IG Image caption Ms Riaz complained that her account was being “gagged” and moved to delete anti-Muslim remarks
The man she recorded the video of told the BBC’s Indian Service: “They [social media executives] will have to take a decision whether we have freedom of speech or not. Every country would want to protect its religion and culture and we wouldn’t allow anything that harms it. In this case, one of us has done an injustice and as such they want to take action against us.”
Since she issued a complaint about the Facebook page being blocked after she and her husband refused to block views posted there by a member of their household, Ms Riaz’s situation has been in the news.
Police investigations have been launched, local members of parliament have demanded action against her, and a man accused of perpetrating the crime was himself taken to court.
Several people involved in an online campaign saying Ms Riaz had no case to answer have described her as an advocate of hatred.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A cow carcass is paraded in a street in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh
However, she has moved her daughter, husband and herself to another part of the city after saying her family were threatened for refusing to move and she was being gagged by fellow Muslims.
In spite of her stress, the woman, who has longstanding business in London, told the BBC she was set to leave India for the UK next week.
Alden Maguire, who was born a Muslim and converted to Christianity and tells BBC Inside Out:
“It’s absolutely shocking what’s going on in India and with the video of her, it is clear where this is coming from. You can see that this is anti-Muslim.
“What she has done is absolutely appalling.”
Image copyright AFP Image caption The video Ms Riaz posted shows the cow being attacked by a Muslim man in the state of Uttar Pradesh
Ms Riaz told the BBC that she was in the process of providing information to police about her family as she refused to let them move out of their home.
Kabir Chaudhry, local editor of the weekly news magazine Tehelka, said she and her family were the victims of “mob mentality and lawlessness”, which he said had seen the trial of the cow-sacrificing man delayed in a court in eastern Uttar Pradesh state.
“After it was all posted on the internet, people started coming down heavily on her, comparing this to her ‘paedophile’ cousin who was allegedly having sex with her daughter,” he said.
Mr Chaudhry said Ms Riaz was part of an “active campaign that borders on extremism”.
Image copyright Indian Express Image caption Gurudas Dasgupta, who played a role in the alleged cow-encounter, had posted on a Facebook group that he would ‘provide justice’ if Ms Riaz was arrested
“This seems to be a planned conspiracy,” he said.