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Cow vigilantism: RSS man arrested for torching truck, cops say vehicle had bulls

The incident was seen as the latest push by cow vigilantes, who have grown in power and expanded rapidly since the BJP stormed to power at the Centre in 2014.

india Updated: Jul 19, 2017 18:05 IST
Deep Mukherjee
Deep Mukherjee
Hindustan Times
Rajasthan,RSS worker arrested,Bull transport
The truck burnt by the vigilantes in Bhilwara.(HT Photo)

Police in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara have arrested 5 people, including a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), for torching a truck they thought was carrying cows for slaughter, officials said on Friday.

Police said the incident happened late on Wednesday when the alleged cow vigilantes stopped the truck near Salampura in Bhilwara and set fire to it.

Station house officer of the Kacchola police station, Damodar Sharma, told the Hindustan Times they arrested Lokesh, Sanvra Jat, Bhagchand Regar, Shankar Dhakad and Nanda Gurjar on Thursday for “setting fire to the truck and creating a ruckus”.

Sharma said those arrested are associated with the RSS, the ideological mentor of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and Gau Raksha Dal.

“In the preliminary investigation, we have learnt that Lokesh is an RSS worker and the other accused are also associated with various cow protection organisations. These men were patrolling the highway and after getting information about the truck and waylaid it,” he said.

He added said several hundred villagers assembled at the spot after the accused told them that the animals were being transported for slaughter, following which the truck was torched.

The driver and helper of the vehicle managed to escape from the angry mob, the police official added.

“There were no cows in the truck and all the animals that were being transported were bulls. The animals were being taken to a cattle fair in Udaipur from various villages in Bhilwara. The owners of the bulls wanted to sell them to other farmers for farm work,” said the SHO.

The 5 men were arrested after the owner of the truck registered cases against them, he said.

A police official told HT on condition of anonymity that several organisations pledging allegiance to the Sangh Parivar were forcing them to release the men.

The incident comes a month after Pehlu Khan, a 55-year-old dairy farmer from Haryana, was waylaid by a mob of cow vigilantes near Behror in Rajasthan on April 1 when he was transporting cows for his small dairy farm, beaten up mercilessly. Khan died of his wounds 2 days later.

His death triggered national outrage and a demand to rein in right-wing vigilante groups, whom Prime Minister Narendra Modi had blamed last August for fomenting social tension and called for action against them.

The incident was seen as the latest push by cow vigilantes, who have grown in power and expanded rapidly since the BJP stormed to power at the Centre in 2014.

Police have not been able to arrest any of the 6 men named by Khan in his dying declaration. However, those identified from a video of the assault that went viral have been arrested.

The Vasundhara Raje government in Rajasthan has been under fire from human rights activists and the opposition for going easy on cow vigilantes.

First Published: May 26, 2017 14:15 IST