Hazaribagh, July 9: Two cow vigilantes had tailed the van of Asgar Ali a.k.a. Alimuddin on a bike from Chitarpur in Ramgarh, a known beef hub, to Bazartand in the heart of the district town on June 29 morning, giving regular phone updates on Ali's whereabouts the entire 15km stretch to their friends in the marketplace waiting to kill.
Beef trader Ali's lynch - Hazaribagh DIG range Bhimsen Tuti confirmed the raw meat in the van was beef - on a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned killings on the name of gau raksha for the first time, was one of the most chilling premeditated mob murders in India.
So far, 12 men have been arrested for this crime, five named in the FIR lodged by Ali's widow Mariam, and seven unnamed. All are lodged in Ramgarh district jail.
Police are piecing together the crime from their statements and cellphone records.
"It has emerged that Ali had been on the radar of cow vigilantes for some time. It seemed they had made a few previous attempts to nab him with beef but failed. But on June 29, they accomplished what they wanted," said Ramgarh SP Kishore Kaushal.
One of the 12 jailed, who was not among the 12 named accused, Rajkumar rode the bike with friend Vikram on pillion, following Ali's van. Rajkumar has admitted to the police he had tried to catch the beef trader once before June 29 in Mandu block but failed.
He told the police that Ali had known cow vigilantes were on his trail but had "become smarter". That's why on June 29, Rajkumar and Vikram stayed in constant touch over phone with four gau rakshaks in Bazartand, Deepak Mishra, Chhotu Verma, Santosh Singh and Chhotu Rana, so that they could intercept Ali's van.
"It was a carefully timed, preplanned murder and the police have enough evidence of that," the SP said. "We are taking help from photographic and video evidence, cellphone records and statements of those arrested to nab the others involved in the crime, both named and unnamed."
The police have learnt that Ali's friend inside the Maruti van (WB/02K-1791) who managed to flee that day was one Md Kalimuddin.
Ali's family has told the police that Kalimuddin was also in the beef trade but could not give his whereabouts.
Ali was dragged out of the van around 9.40am and beaten severely by a small mob at Bazartand, as sacks of beef from his van thrown on the road and bystanders clicked pictures and recorded videos, 2.5km from Ramgarh thana. When the police reached the spot 15 minutes later, the van was up in flames but he was still alive. He died at Ramgarh Sadar Hospital at 10.10am.
Ali's autopsy report prepared by a medical board at RIMS, Ranchi, said he died of multiple internal injuries.