Mistaking chicken feed for beef, cow vigilantes at a village near Bhopal’s Bairasia locality torched a passing truck carrying the meat and beat up the vehicle owner on Saturday.
Police arrested Bablu Thakur (22) and Gaurav Rajput (23) for the incident that occurred about 40 kms from the state capital. They are on the lookout for the other accused.
“Gaurav Rajput and Bablu Thakur were arrested for rioting and mischief by fire or explosive substance under relevant sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC). The police may initiate actions under National Security Act against the two. Investigations are on to nab the other accused,” said superintendent of police (north), Arvind Saxena.
Local police inspector HC Ladiya added that a case had been against 15 persons. The accused were booked under the IPC sections pertinent to rioting, unlawful assembly, voluntary causing hurt, criminal intimidation, mischief, and mischief caused by fire and explosives.
Police suspect the hand of a right-wing organisation behind the attack.
The incident follows the thrashing of two Muslim women by Hindu Dal activists in July in Mandsaur district over rumours that they were carrying beef. A veterinary test later revealed the 30kg of meat seized from the women was buffalo.
Cow slaughter is banned in Madhya Pradesh, with the maximum punishment stretching upto seven years in jail. However, the state law doesn’t include buffalo under its ambit, which means the Muslim women were not guilty.
According to police, the truck headed for Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh had developed a technical glitch at Bairasia at around 10 am. Since the truck was carrying raw chicken feed, it had the stench of dry animal bones and organs. The smell caught the attention of some locals who suspected the truck of carrying beef.
The locals rounded on vehicle owner Amar Singh Jat, even when he showed his legal documents clarifying the meat to be chicken fodder. Besides roughing him up, the mob also poured kerosene on the truck and set it alight.
A patrolling police jeep reached the spot at this time and alerted the Bairasia police station and the fire brigade. The fire was put out before it damaged more than the cabin of the truck.
Cows are revered by Hindus and slaughtering them is illegal in most states. Madhya Pradesh, and many others states, also bar the sale and possession of beef.
The issue of beef consumption has been a burning issue for months now, starting with the murder of Mohammad Ikhlaq in September last year when a mob suspected him of eating beef. The death sparked outrage among many across the nation, but also led to similar incidents of violence by cow vigilantes.