The problem is from both the sides, state’s home minister, Gulab Chand Kataria.
In a video that is being widely circulated, a mob assaults five men who were transporting cows in Rajasthan’s Alwar. One man is seen slumped on the road, unconscious. Pehlu Khan, 55, died in hospital yesterday, two days after the brutal beating, and his four companions are in hospital. The state’s home minister, Gulab Chand Kataria, has shockingly defended the lynch mob – describing them as Gau Bhakts (cow protectors) – and blamed the victims.
Pehlu Khan, who was from Haryana, and his associates were attacked even after they reportedly produced documents to show they had bought the cows from a “Pashu Mela” or livestock fair in Jaipur. They were dragged out of their pick-up truck on the highway, chased and thrashed, shows the video apparently filmed by locals.
“The problem is from both the sides. People know cow-trafficking is illegal but they do it. Gau Bhakts try to stop those who indulge in such crimes,” said the minister, adding,
“However, taking law in one’s hand is wrong. Police will act against both sides.”
The police say they have made 10 arrests for murder, but their version also appears to support the self-appointed cow vigilantes.
“Police got information that some people are smuggling cows from Jaipur and are headed to Delhi. Behrod police caught some trucks and some trucks escaped, these trucks were forced stopped by public and the drivers were beaten by the public,” said a senior police officer, Paras Jain.
One local police officer, Ramesh Chand Sinsinwar, has been quoted in reports as saying that the cow vigilantes are linked to rightwing hardliners and had stopped several vehicles on Saturday, “to check for cow smugglers”.
Cow protection has been in the news over the past few days amid tough steps taken in BJP-ruled states like Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. New UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered a crackdown on illegal slaughterhouses and in Gujarat, the punishment for cow slaughter is a life term after changes to law.
Last month, a mob attacked a hotel in Jaipur, alleging that it was selling beef.