A mob of 200 people attacked a nomadic family in Jammu’s Reasi district on suspicions of cattle smuggling, police said on Saturday.
Reasi senior superintendent of police Tahir Sajjad Bhat told Hindustan Times two people were injured in the assault on Thursday but news agency IANS reported that five people were beaten up, including a nine-year-old girl.
Police said the nomads were crossing a stretch in Reasi’s Talwara with a large number of goat, sheep and cattle, when they were attacked by a group of suspected vigilantes.
Large numbers of nomadic tribes usually travel across the border state at this time of the year with a large number of animals in tow, most of them sheep and horses.
“An FIR has been lodged. We have arrested persons involved in the attack on the nomad family moving with their livestock – cattle, sheep and goats on April 20 night,” a senior police officer told IANS.
Television channels reported that cow vigilante groups were involved in the incident and had thrashed the nomads with iron rods but police refuted the claim. “It was a clear cut case of misunderstanding and no cow vigilante group was involved in it,” said the SSP. The injured were discharged from hospital on Friday.
The cow is considered holy by many Hindus and has been at the centre of a growing nationwide debate over meat consumption.
Many states, including Jammu and Kashmir, have banned cow slaughter and smuggling but in recent months, vigilante groups have mushroomed across the country that target anyone suspected of eating beef or carrying cattle for slaughter. Critics say the groups are illegal and single out Dalit and Muslim communities.
Cow protectors grabbed headlines after a Muslim dairy farmer was lynched by alleged cow protectors in Rajasthan’s Alwar earlier this month.
In Jammu and Kashmir too, bovine-related violence has been on the rise, especially in the Hindu-dominated Jammu region that is a BJP stronghold. In 2015, Jammu’s Udhampur was rocked with protests after over a petrol bomb attack on a Srinagar-bound truck, allegedly by right-wing activists who suspected cattle was being transported.
(With agency inputs)