Three arrested for Jalpaiguri lynchings, police rule out cow vigilantism
Police yet to ascertain if the men who were killed were cow smugglers or cattle traders.
Three villagers were arrested on Monday for allegedly lynching two men on suspicion of cattle smuggling a day earlier in north Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district, police said.
The killings were not linked to cow vigilantism, police said, who were yet to ascertain if the two victims, both Muslims, were cattle smugglers or traders.
Hafizul Sheikh, a resident of Dhubri in Assam, and Anwar Hussain, a resident of Cooch Behar in Bengal, were travelling in a van with seven cows when they were attacked by a group of villagers in Dadon early on Sunday.
Jalpaiguri shares the border with Bangladesh and cattle-smuggling across the porous frontier is rampant in several districts on the Indian side. Cattle thefts, too, are common as the animals can be easily sold across the border.
The suspects, including a Muslin youth, were picked up from Barohalia village, police said.
The men who were killed on Sunday wanted to avoid a police check post and lost their way while taking a detour, locals said. They were looking for a way out when a group of villagers stopped them. Sheikh and Hussain were killed but the van driver, who was injured, managed to flee.
This is the second time in three months that someone has been killed on suspicion of cow theft in Bengal. Three Muslim men were beaten to death in June in North Dinajpur district when they were allegedly trying to steal a cow.
There has been a rise in incidents of violence in the name of cow protection across the country, as BJP-ruled states draw up stringent rules and punishments for cattle and beef smuggling. Critics accuse the BJP of encouraging the lynch mobs.