A mob of around 150 people thrashed three alleged cow transporters and stripped one of them naked in BJP-ruled Rajasthan’s Pratapgarh district, the latest in a spate of violence over bovine trade and beef consumption.
Sources said state police and members of the Bajrang Dal and cow protection vigilante group Gau Raksha Samiti intercepted two trucks carrying 96 bullocks at a national highway in Choti Sadri on Tuesday.
The bullocks were allegedly meant for slaughterhouses in Gujarat and Maharashtra and were brought from Jaipur and Ajmer.
Sources said police seized one truck but the other was taken over by Bajrang Dal and Gau Raksha Samiti members. They then allegedly beat up three reported cow transporters and stripped one, sources added.
“When police tried to intercept one truck, all four transporters left the truck in the ignition mode and ran in four different directions,” said Kalu Ram Rawat, superintendent of police, Pratapgarh. “Two of the transporters were nabbed by the police and saved from the vigilantes, one escaped and one was brutally beaten up by the mob.”
Police said they arrested all seven alleged cow transporters but only one suspected assaulter.
“One Dinesh Bawli was held on the spot but the rest of the mob managed to flee. We are continuing our investigation,” said Om Prakash Upadhyay, circle officer, Choti Sadri, Pratapgarh.
An FIR against the mob was registered and police said efforts were being made to arrest the other suspects, who are said to be residents of the area.
The incident emerged after photos of the alleged assault surfaced on social media. One purported photo showed a man in a police uniform as part of the assaulting group, triggering charges that police was complicit in the attack.
But the authorities denied the allegations. “The pictures that show a cop standing with the naked boy is actually trying to save the boy from Raksha Samiti people”, said Rawat.
Police booked the alleged transporters under the Rajasthan Bovine Animal (Prohibition on slaughter and regulation of Temporary migration or Export) Act, 1995.
Cow slaughter and the consumption of beef are banned in several states, including the BJP-ruled Rajasthan. But beef has become a religiously sensitive topic in the country, where the cow is described in Hindu scriptures as the “mother” of civilisation.
Cow protection units are mushrooming across India and feeling particularly emboldened in BJP-ruled Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand. Two Muslim herdsmen were killed earlier this year by alleged cow vigilante groups, triggering outrage.