The Rajasthan government briefed the Union home ministry in a report on Friday that the state has formed a special police team to arrest all the suspected cow vigilantes involved in the lynching of a Muslim dairy owner in Alwar.
The state government said three people have been arrested for the incident in which a 55-year-old man, Pehlu Khan, was beaten to death in Alwar district allegedly by a group of gou rakshaks, or cow protectors, on April 1.
The police team will try to arrest the remaining accused, sources said.
The attacked happened when 16 people were allegedly transporting 36 cows and calves from a cattle fair in six pickup vans. Dairy farmer Khan and another four people, including his two sons, were beaten brutally at Behror in Alwar, suspecting they were smuggling cows, police said.
The incident rocked both Houses of Parliament. The Congress alleged that BJP-ruled states were “violating” the Constitution in the name of cow protection.
Union minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi clarified in the Rajya Sabha that the fatal attack did occur and an FIR has been filed.
His remarks follow his statement in the Upper House the day before that the incident was not accurately presented. He was responding to the Opposition’s charges that cow vigilantes in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat were committing excesses.
Naqvi said on Friday the NDA government at the Centre does not condone violence and hooliganism. “Criminals, murderers, goons or a rowdy, should not be seen as a Hindu or a Muslim; a criminal is a criminal.”
He assured that home minister Rajnath Singh would make a statement in the Rajya Sabha on Monday. But his assurance did little to placate the Congress parliamentarians, who rushed to well of the House, shouted slogans and demanded an apology from the minister.
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad reminded the ruling coalition about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s outbursts against gau rakshaks last August when he blamed them for flaming tension in society and called for action against them. But the BJP workers are not paying heed, he said.
“A person accused of slapping someone is remanded in police custody for 14 days. But in this case, the accused have been in custody for a single day. That indicates the intention to end this case,” he alleged.
Vigilante groups have been accused of insulting and beating men they accused, often without proof, of slaughtering cows, which is banned in many states. Such acts of vigilantism are seen by many as a threat to the social and religious stability needed for India’s economic advancement.
The Congress welcomed the Supreme Court’s directive to Rajasthan on the Alwar incident.
Besides, the court issued notices to Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Jharkhand — all BJP-ruled states. The directive came after a petition seeking a ban on gau rakshaks and inquiry into all incidents of cow vigilantism in these states.
“The Supreme Court has taken the right decision because gangs of gau rakshaks are enjoying extra-constitutional powers and they don’t seem to have any fear at all,” Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry said.
(With inputs from agencies)