Tension gripped a village in Rajasthan’s Nagaur district after an angry mob torched several vehicles and scuffled with police following the posting of photos on WhatsApp purportedly showing carcasses of cows dumped at a local farm.
The mob in Kumhari village, located 15 km from the district headquarters, burnt two motorcycles and a tractor belonging to the local municipal body. The protestors scuffled with policemen and pelted stones at them, injuring a station house officer.
Police carried out a lathi charge and fired 20 teargas shells to disperse the mob. Twenty people were arrested for disturbing the peace and large gatherings were prohibited under Section 144 of the CrPC. Officials described the situation as tense but under control.
Officials said protests erupted at 11:30am in Kumhari after photos purportedly showing carcasses of cows lying in a farm and some persons cooking beef were shared on WhatsApp.
Residents of neighbouring villages gathered to protest the alleged slaughter of cows by Muslims, who dominates Kumhari.
Police officials have asked state’s Special Operations Group to probe the charge.
“As soon as we received information that a large number of people had gathered near Kumhari, I rushed to the place and tried to persuade the people not to take the law in their hands. But when they did not relent, we resorted to mild force to disperse the crowd,” said Nagaur’s superintendent of police Raghvendra Suhasa.
Police said the mob pelted stones at them before they fired teargas to disperse the protestors. Bharat Rawat, the SHO of Nagaur Sadar police station, sustained injuries, Suhasa said.
“The situation is completely under control and a large police force has been deployed in Kumhari for the villagers’ protection,” he added.
Reports said a farm in the area was used by a Muslim contractor of Nagaur Municipal Council to dump carcasses from nearby areas for the past few months. However, the situation flared up on Saturday when the contractor dumped the carcasses of 20 cows at the site.
According to a source, enmity between the contractor and a local Hindu group’s leader led to the situation. The Hindu group’s leader allegedly demanded Rs 40,000 from the contractor to let him carry on dumping carcasses in the area.
When the contractor refused to pay up, the Hindu leader allegedly instigated villagers against the contractor, a police official said on condition of anonymity.
Nagaur district was rocked earlier this month by violent clashes between Dalits and Jats, who used tractors to flatten the homes of Dalits and allegedly thrashed several women. The clashes occurred following a sudden flare-up over a decades-old land dispute.