Three days after chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar announced in Panipat that criminal cases against ‘gau rakshaks’ in Haryana would be revoked, an unidentified ‘cow protection vigilante’ team shot dead a migrant worker near Bhanukheri village in Karnal in the wee hours of Wednesday.
The deceased, 25-year-old Khush Noor, is a native of Ballamajra village in Saharanpur. Another man, Ehsaan, suffered a minor injury and after being administered first aid, was discharged from hospital.
Superintendent of police Pankaj Nain told HT that there was no evidence to prove that cows were being smuggled in the vehicle or any other illegal activity was on. “Unidentified people opened fire at a group of nearly 40 migrant workers who were heading from Nawanshahr in Punjab to their native place in Uttar Pradesh to cast vote in panchayat polls. Seven teams have been formed to identify cow protection activists from the area and nab the culprits,” he said.
“It seems a case of mistaken identity where unidentified people opened fire at innocent people. It is unfortunate and the guilty will be brought to book,” he said.
Police were informed that as the canter ferrying workers reached near the village, a group of people stopped the vehicle at a naka. The SP said that contrary to the statements made by villagers, there was no evidence that the migrants were carrying a weapon or opened fire at the animal vigilante team.
The SP said, “Migrant workers claimed that as they got down the canter, the armed group enquired if cows were being smuggled in the vehicle. Soon someone opened fire killing a man on the spot. No one else suffered the gunshot injury.”
Smuggling of bovines to slaughterhouses in Uttar Pradesh from Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan is rampant and animals are routed through different districts of Haryana. The Khattar-led BJP government had recently introduced the Haryana Gauvansh and Gausamvardhan Act that bans cow slaughter and prohibits transportation of cows for sale to other states. On November 29, the Kurukshetra Police had registered the first case under the Act after it shot dead alleged cow smuggler Abid of Yamunanagar, who was involved in several crime cases.