A group of cow protection committee take out a rally
A group of cow protection committee take out a rally

In a video that is being widely circulated, a mob chases, kicks and punches five men who were going back home to Haryana after buying cows in Jaipur. One man is seen slumped on the road, unconscious. Pehlu Khan, 55, died in hospital yesterday and his four companions are in hospital. The state’s home minister, Gulab Chand Kataria, has shockingly defended the lynch mob – describing them as Gau Bhakts (cow protectors) – and blamed the victims.

Pehlu Khan and his associates had reportedly produced documents to show they had bought the cows from a “Pashu Mela” or livestock fair in Jaipur. They were dragged out of their pick-up truck on the highway and thrashed, shows the video apparently filmed by locals.

The five victims are among the 10 charged by the police. Not one attacker has been named, even though a murder case has been filed.

The minister said, “The problem is from both the sides. People know cow-trafficking is illegal but they do it. Gau Bhakts try to stop those who indulge in such crimes. However, taking law in one’s hand is wrong. Police will act against both sides.”

Pehlu Khan’s son Irshad said their papers were valid, but the police tore them saying those would not work. A senior police officer, Rahul Prakash said the allegation would be investigated “but for the time being, the victims were also being treated as accused”.

The police version appears to support the self-appointed cow vigilantes.

“Police got information that some people are smuggling cows from Jaipur and are headed to Delhi. Behrod police caught some trucks and some trucks escaped, these trucks were forced stopped by public and the drivers were beaten by the public,” said a senior police officer, Paras Jain.

The police say the attackers were from the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

Cow protection has been in the news over the past few days amid tough steps taken in BJP-ruled states like Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. New UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered a crackdown on illegal slaughterhouses and in Gujarat, the punishment for cow slaughter is a life term after changes to law.

Last month, a mob attacked a hotel in Jaipur, alleging that it was selling beef.

But the Rajasthan home minister has claimed that the man lynched by cow vigilante group in Alwar was a cow smuggler. Rajasthan government has come under severe criticism over the killing of a Haryana man after he along with some other men transporting cows were attacked by a mob of ‘gau rakshaks’ in Alwar district earlier this week.

“You can check all records, we have acted against both Hindu as well as Muslim cow smugglers, it is not about Hindu or Muslim,” says the Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria on the Opposition parties charge of acting soft against cow vigilante groups.

the minister said that his government has acted against all those who have taken law into their hands.

“We have arrested four persons involved in the incident and booked them with murder charge, while a reward of Rs 5000 has been announced for any information about others involved in the lynching,” said Kataria.

On the Opposition claim that those beaten up were dairy farmers and had valid documents issued from the municipal corporation, he said that in Rajasthan only tehsildars, SDO and DMs are authorised to issue certificate to transport out cows and its progenies.

As per the minister, police had a tip-off about six vehicles illegally transporting cows out of the state, while cops managed to seize four of them, the other two managed to flee and were later caught by locals. “The police reached the spot and took those injured to the hospital, while those involved in the incident were booked under Section 308,” said Kataria.

“Two days later, when one of the injured died, a murder case was registered and four people were arrested,”  he added.

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi with a Muslim delegationMeanwhile in Delhi, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi dismissed on Thursday the version of events of the killing of a Muslim man by cow vigilante groups in Rajasthan’s Alwar amid growing uproar over the alleged murder.

“Jis tarah ki ghatna pesh ki ja rahi hai, us tarah ki ghatna zameen par hua nehi (The version of events presented didn’t occur),” Naqvi said amid an uproar in the Rajya Sabha over the Alwar incident.

As a united Opposition slammed the government for doing nothing against rogue groups thrashing people on the pretext of cow protection, Naqvi said, “This issue is a very sensitive issue. The message should not go from the House that we are supporting cow slaughter. Millions of people’s sentiments are involved in the issue.”

Naqvi added that the media report has already been rejected by the state government. Pehlu Khan, a 55-year-old man, succumbed to his injuries at on Monday night after a large group of cow protection activists attacked him and four others while they were transporting cattle along the Alwar highway.

The incident triggered widespread condemnation with many calling for a government crackdown on such vigilante groups. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, in a series of tweets, slammed the BJP government over the incident. “When Govt abdicates responsibility & allows lynch mobs to rule, tragedies of immense proportion follow. Shocking breakdown of law&order in Alwar.”

“We expect Govt to take strict action against those responsible for this brutal & senseless attack,” he said.

“All right thinking Indians must condemn this blind brutality,” he added.

In a related development, those making rent agreements, mortgage papers and lease agreements in Rajasthan will now have to pay a surcharge of 10% on stamp duty for cow protection. The finance department has imposed the surcharge on all such non-judicial instruments, order for which was released on March 31 last.

“In exercise of the powers conferred of the Rajasthan Stamp Act, 1998 and in supersession of this department’s notification, state government hereby orders surcharge at the rate of 10 per cent on stamp duty payable on all instruments for the purposes of conservation and propagation of cow and its progeny,” states the order.

In her budget speech, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje had proposed the surcharge for development of basic infrastructure facilities and protection and propagation of cows.

However, judicial stamps, revenue ticket and insurance ticket have been excluded from the order.