Monday, 30th October 2017

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'Protector' faces case

Punjab police have started a case against the head of a cow vigilante group in the first such attempt to rein in thugs masquerading as bovine protectors since Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence on such "badshahs".

By Arnab Ganguly in Chandigarh
  • Published 9.08.16
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Chandigarh, Aug. 8: Punjab police have started a case against the head of a cow vigilante group in the first such attempt to rein in thugs masquerading as bovine protectors since Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke his silence on such "badshahs".

An FIR, registered by police, has charged Satish Kumar, the head of the Punjab Gau Raksha Dal, and 21 of his associates with criminal intimidation, extortion and wrongful confinement of alleged cattle smugglers.

The move came days after Modi said he was "very angry" with criminals going around in the guise of cow protectors. That was after enquiries suggested that some of cow vigilantes who flogged four Dalits in Gujarat early last month were criminals.

Political rivals of the BJP, however, sensed another reason behind the police action. Punjab, ruled by BJP ally Akali Dal, votes early next year and nearly a third of its residents are Dalits.

Kumar, who is yet to be arrested, today appeared to blame Modi for the police action. " Modiji ke ek bayaan par kar diya (one statement of Modiji they did it)," he told this newspaper over the phone, adding the FIR was based on a video at least 10 years old.

Patiala SSP Gurmit Singh Chauhan said the matter was under investigation. "There are allegations of assault and extortion. We are trying to find out whether the video is authentic or not, based on it we will proceed."

It was not clear if Punjab police had a dossier ready on Kumar, who said he had been running his organisation for nearly 30 years and had saved over 15 lakh cows.

A blog by Kumar says there were "lots of cases" against him but he wasn't scared "because I am saving my mother".

Police sources said they were aware of the Gau Raksha Dal's activities but had not been able to take action because of political patronage such groups enjoy.

The Gau Raksha Dal has uploaded videos showing members of the group chasing and beating up alleged cattle smugglers, with policemen in uniform looking on. There are also videos that show the cow protectors stripping and urinating on alleged smugglers.

"We have to find out where these incidents took place. If any police officer is found to have been involved, action will be taken," a police officer said.

"None of these victims have come forward to complain. In this case, the police have acted on their own," said a source.