Under pressure following the death of 55-year-old Pehlu Khan in a brutal attack by cow protection activists on Saturday, Rajasthan police have announced a reward of Rs 5,000 for anybody providing information on each of the six suspects identified so far.
Khan succumbed to his injuries at Kailash Hospital in Alwar on Monday night. The other four victims have been discharged, and allowed to return to Nuh – their hometown in Haryana.
The large group of gau rakshaks (cow protectors) had attacked Khan and four others while they were transporting cattle along the Alwar highway on Saturday. When police reached the spot, they left the five men behind and fled.
The incident comes amid a host of stringent measures taken by BJP-ruled states to protect cows, considered sacred by many Hindus.
Rajasthan home minister Gulab Chand Kataria justified the attack by ‘gau rakshaks’ saying that both parties were to be blamed for Pehlu Khan’s death. He said illegal transport of cows was banned in the state.
However, the victims claimed that they had valid documents and were legally transporting cattle purchased from a market in Jaipur.
“We had registered a case against the attackers on the basis of a statement provided by Pehlu Khan before his death. The culpable homicide case has now been converted to that of murder,” said Alwar superintendent of police Rahul Prakash.
Prakash named Om Yadav, Hukum Chand Yadav, Sudhir Yadav, Jagmal Yadav, Naveen Sharma and Rahul Saini as suspects in the FIR. A case has also been lodged against 200 unidentified people, he said, adding that three teams – comprising officers from six police stations – have been constituted to arrest them. The teams are led by Behror circle officer Parmal Singh.
Investigators are also trying to identify the others involved in the attack through local sources and videos being circulated on the social media.
Police said they had arrested 11 people and rescued 28 bovines a little before the attack occurred. “The cattle were being transported in six pick-up vans. While police intercepted four of them, two were attacked by the gau rakshaks,” said an officer on the condition of anonymity.