Week after Modi’s warning, mob attacks six men transporting buffaloes in Delhi
At least six men transporting buffaloes and calves were assaulted by members of a self-styled cow protection group in southwest Delhi on the suspicion that the animals were being taken to a slaughterhouse on Friday night.
The attack at Baba Haridas Nagar was the latest case of cattle vigilantism by radical groups linked to the Hindu right wing. And it happened barely nine days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned vigilantes, saying killing people in the name of protecting cows is unacceptable.
Police said on Saturday about 70 attackers damaged seven pickup trucks in which around 100 buffaloes and calves were being taken from Jhajjar in Haryana to a cattle market in Ghazipur.
The cattle traders alleged that the people pinned them down on the road and attacked them with leather belts, sticks and stones. The mob then let loose the livestock.
The traders said the people took away the cattle. But police rescued all the “stolen” animals, barring three calves.
“We have identified some of the attackers,” deputy commissioner of police (outer) MN Tiwari said and promised “harshest of punishments” to the culprits.
The victims suffered wounds on their faces and hands. One of them, 40-year-old Ali Jaan, has fractured his arms.
Shokin, a trader ferrying 17 calves with brother Dilshad and a nephew, said the attack began minutes after a policemen stopped their vehicle and asked them to show documents for transporting cattle.
“When we said we will show them later, he insisted on looking at them right away.”
Last month, the Centre brought in new rules prohibiting sale of cows and buffaloes for slaughter, which activists said would encourage vigilante groups to target those involved in legal trade.
Moments later, about four men allegedly reached the spot and the constable moved away. They pulled Shokin, his brother and the nephew out of the vehicle and thrashed them.
“They accused us of stealing cows and buffaloes for illegal slaughterhouses,” he said.
The group swelled soon after and they stopped the other vehicles. Some of the drivers and traders managed to escape the attack.
Shokin and the victims called police for help. But the first police car allegedly came two hours later.
Police officer Tiwari promised to identify the constable that stopped the first vehicle. “We will certainly not defend anyone, be it a policeman or a civilian,” he said.
Unconfirmed reports suggest the attack was triggered by an incident of road rage after a car grazed buffalo calves that were sticking their heads out of Shokin’s pickup van. The police FIR didn’t mention this, though.
The attack follows the fatal stabbing of Muslim teenager Junaid Khan on a suburban train in Haryana’s Ballabhgarh on June 22 and back-to-back lynching of cattle traders in Jharkhand by so-called cow vigilantes.
Several people, most of them Muslims, have been killed across the country by vigilantes that have sprung up to protect cows, an animal considered sacred in Hinduism.
Prime Minister Modi has warned twice — once last year — against “gau rakhaks” turning into lynch mobs. But critics say the government has done little to reign in these groups.