One of the victims claimed that the attackers forced him to say “Jai Hanuman”.
New Delhi: Five people were beaten by cow vigilantes in Faridabad on the outskirts of the national capital Delhi on Friday morning on the suspicion of carrying beef in an auto rickshaw.
Instead of booking the culprits right away, the police first booked the victims for allegedly smuggling beef. The incident has brought to light the inability of the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government to curb such violence in the state. It was only later when lab tests revealed it was buffalo meat that the police booked the culprits for assault and withdrew the case against the victims.
The episode raises questions about whether the Haryana government has learned any lessons from the brutal killing of Hafiz Junaid, who was stabbed to death in June this year while returning with his family members by train.
Azad was driving the auto rickshaw in Faridabad to deliver buffalo meat to a shop. He was accompanied by Sonu, 14, an employee of the meat supplier.
Azad later told the media that despite telling the men that the meat was not of a cow and that the matter should be taken to the police, the accused kept assaulting him. Azad’s family, who came to his rescue, were assaulted too.
Azad told NDTV that the attackers then forced him to say “Jai Hanuman”. When he refused, they directed him to say, “Jai Gau Mata”.They also threatened him that they would forcibly make him eat pork, which is prohibited in Islam.
Initially, the police had only booked the victims under the cow slaughter act and had not filed any case against the accused. It was only later when a lab report confirmed that it was actually buffalo meat and when media pressure mounted that the police booked the accused for violence.
The Supreme Court had earlier directed all the states to nominate a police officer in each district to check violence in the name of cow protection. The apex court had stated: “Efforts have to be made to stop such vigilantism. How they (states) will do it, is their business but this must stop.”
Senior advocate Indira Jaising had noted that there were 66 alleged incidents of mob lynching and assaults since July across the country.
In the case of Haryana, the divide among communities appears even more pronounced and the approach of the state towards the entire issue, as is apparent from recent acts of violence, has clearly not helped. While the state has been acting tough in the name of cow smuggling, it has not clamped down on violent vigilante groups.
In 2016, not only had the government enacted the Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act providing ten years imprisonment for cow slaughter, it had also launched a helpline for such cases. In 2015, 85 cases had been registered under the Punjab Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955, the earlier anti-cow slaughter act applicable to Haryana.