The flogging of a group of men, belonging to Dalit castes, in Gujarat’s Una town was no isolated incident. Much before Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke against the self-styled cow-protection groups, or gangs of men who call themselves ‘gau rakshak’ (cow protectors) — and one such Punjab leader, Satish Kumar, and his men were booked on Sunday — their violent ‘projects’ were up on the internet, on websites such as YouTube. A simple search shows dozens of videos from some years back too, while there are several recent videos too.
One such video uploaded by ‘Gau Raksha Dal India’, set to upbeat Punjabi music, shows ‘gau rakshaks’ beating up, blackening faces, whipping and kicking those allegedly caught smuggling cows and/of beef. It also shows dead cows. The graphic video further shows men being forced to lie down as ‘rakhshaks’ hit their soles with what appears to be bamboo sticks. It also shows a man, tied and hanging upside down, being flogged. ‘Bio’ under the YouTube video redirects one to a web page that declares “war against cow killers.” The blog also has a slideshow consisting of images of cow slaughter and various pictures of Satish Kumar.
See video here:
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In another such video, uploaded by YouTube user ‘ddrana1’, a group of 10-odd men get into an SUV-cum-mini truck and are shown chasing down a truck that has cows inside. The cows are concealed behind plastic crates which the armed men remove. At the beginning, many of them have swords, sticks and rifles, while several have pistols and are wearing what appear to be bullet-proof jackets. After the truck is topped, they take down a young man who is beaten up with sticks, with a man appearing to be the leader of the group using a fat log to hit him repeatedly on his legs. Then they lay him face down and at least two men hold up the victim’s feet up, and the group leader uses the log to hit him on his bare upturned feet. The man is visibly writhing in pain.
Yet another video published by the account ‘Gau Raksha Dal India’ shows a man holding up a rifle as text on the screen says ‘sirf bhagwa, na hara, na shwet’ (‘only saffron, no green, no white’), apparently referring to the Indian national flag, the tricolour, that in some layman’s terms signifies Hindu for saffron, Muslim for green and the rest are clubbed in white.
Then it has a slide of Satish Kumar, the group president — who has been booked on Sunday by the Rajpura police in Patiala district — receiving some awards and honours. It has a song ‘Jatt Punjabi’ playing in the background and a subtitled sequence in which a truck is stopped and their drivers and occupants thrashed.
It ends with a shot of a truck set on fire and a phone number displayed in case you need to call the group for action.