Across Haryana and Rajasthan, protesters have called for justice to Junaid and Nasir, two men who were murdered after members of cow vigilante gangs had accused them of smuggling cattle.
Thousands gathered in the village of Firozpur Jhirka in Haryana on February 24. The protesters handed a memorandum to the Haryana police, blaming their inaction and the impunity of the state for the killings.
Speaking to The Wire, Zaid Khan, one of the protesters, said, “We have gathered here to press for justice for Junaid and Nasir. I have walked from a village that is 20 kilometres away from Firozpur Jhirka. This issue is not just Mewat’s issue.”
Zaid said that the Bajrang Dal and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh have been targeting members of the Muslim community for years and he felt that the latest killings were a mark of their excesses.
The protesters on buses and tempos, waved the tricolour and chanted slogans calling for “Justice for Nasir and Junaid.”
The demands articulated in their memorandum are as follows:
- That a judicial inquiry be conducted into this case and other past murders done in the name of cow protection.
- That due compensation be provided to the families of Junaid and Nasir.
- That government jobs to be given to the family members of the two.
- That an investigation be conducted into the car that was used to abduct them.
The Wire has reported on how the same car (HR70D4177) was used in multiple attacks in the area and was once registered as a government vehicle.
Izan, another protester, said that if the Haryana Police had performed its duties correctly, it would have taken custody of Junaid and Nasir when the cow vigilante gang first brought them. “The brothers could have been saved then,” he said.
One of the accused in the case, Rinku Saini, has reportedly admitted that he and other cow vigilantes first took Nasir and Junaid to the Haryana Police.
At Ghatmeeka in Rajasthan, the village of Junaid and Nasir, protesters are angry with the Rajasthan Police too. A small tent has been set up and peaceful agitations have been ongoing for the past two weeks.
Ataullah Khan, who hails from Dhimri village and has been on a sit-in at the protest site at the Ghatmeeka Idgah, said, “We vote for Congress and send them to the parliament so our voice is heard. See what they are doing now. This government just wants us to stay quiet, but we won’t let that happen.”
The protesters were also served ‘breach of peace’ notices over the congregation. However, they have vowed to continue showing up in large numbers.
In Rajasthan’s capital, Jaipur, too members of the Rajasthan Muslim Forum and others from various communities gathered outside the Muslim Musafirkhana to voice their concerns and make a series of demands.
The state president of the Ambedkarite Party of India, Dr. Dashrath Hinunia spoke with The Wire, expressing his disappointment with the government.
He stated that his party had been supporting the government for the past 75 years, yet they had failed to take any significant action. The president then went on to draw a comparison between the treatment of Kanhaiya Lal’s family and the families of Junaid and Nasir.
In June 2022, Kanhaiya Lal, a tailor in Udaipur, was killed by Muslim extremists who subsequently posted videos online where they claimed they were avenging an insult to Islam.
Jaipur protesters too, asked for compensation to the deceased men’s families and a judicial inquiry into previous incidents of cow protection-related violence in the area.
In Delhi, too, a protest was organised by student groups.