Cow vigilantes strike again, 1 lynched
Jaipur: A man was beaten to death in Rajasthan's Alwar district on Friday night by a group of people who accused him of smuggling cows, police said citing victim Akbar Khan's dying declaration.
The incident came on a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Rajnath Singh had, during the no-confidence debate in the Lok Sabha, placed the onus on the states to curb lynchings.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had reminded the government of its "sacrosanct duty" to protect its citizens from lynch mobs, and called upon Parliament to enact a special law against vigilante violence.
Akbar, 28, and friend Aslam were ferrying two cows to their village in Haryana through a forested area near Lalawandi when five men attacked them, Ramgarh station house officer Subhash Sharma said. He said whether Akbar was indeed smuggling cows was yet to be ascertained.
Inspector-general (Jaipur Range) Hemant Priyadarshi said two men, Dharmendra Yadav and Paramjeet Singh Sardar, had been arrested on murder charges and the police were looking for the rest of the accused.
Chief minister Vasundhara Raje condemned the killing and promised "strictest possible action".
But Union minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, who is from Rajasthan, appeared to shrug responsibility. "You have to trace this back in history to know why this happens and who should stop this. What happened with Sikhs in 1984 was the biggest lynching in this nation's history," he said, referring to the pogrom after Indira Gandhi's assassination.
The comment was a repeat of what Rajnath said in Parliament on Friday: "The biggest incident of the mob-lynching happened during 1984."
Meghwal also said: "The more popular Modiji becomes, the more such incidents will happen...."
Friday night's murder carries echoes of the lynching of dairy farmer Pehlu Khan, 55, in Alwar in April last year. Pehlu too was beaten to death by cow vigilantes while transporting two milch cows from a fair to his home in Haryana.
Umar Khan, 35, was found dead near railway tracks in Alwar in November, his family alleging cow vigilantes had shot him.
Akbar died on the way to a government hospital in Ramgarh after giving the police his statement. Aslam, who escaped the attackers, will have his statement recorded too, police sources said.
"We want justice. The culprits should be arrested soon," Akbar's father Suleman said.
Akbar said in his statement that he and Aslam had bought the cows from Ladpur village, Priyadarshi said. He said the police were probing if Akbar and Aslam had a past record of cow smuggling.
The Congress said lynching had become common because criminals were drawing encouragement from the government's inadequate response and ambiguous attitude.
Party general secretary Ashok Gehlot, who is from Rajasthan, said: "The Prime Minister remains silent on such cases and the states order (the) customary inquiries...."