Cow Vigilantes In The Capital? What I Saw On Saturday Night

Published: April 23, 2017 20:24 IST
Driving back home around 11:30 on Saturday night on Outer Ring Road, near the Kalkaji Temple in South Delhi, I saw that traffic on the other side of the road had come to a standstill, blocked by a truck. A few men had clambered on to the truck, flashing a light inside.

There were people shouting and a large group of more than 50 seemed to have gathered by the side of the road.

As I walked towards the group trying to film on my phone, a man in a dark shirt with a tilak on his forehead said, "Men were trying to take cows and buffaloes for slaughter and have thankfully been stopped." I asked him how he knew they were meant for slaughter. He said, "We've followed them from Haryana." He identified himself as Mohit but would give no other details.

A woman was screaming "aur mat maro, mat maro inhein" (don't beat them anymore). The women were led away by some men. I pushed through the crowd to see three men in their thirties - one perhaps older, slumped by the side of the road. All three were bleeding from the nose and forehead. One had been beaten so badly, he could barely sit up. A policeman was prodding the three asking them, "Where are you from, what were you doing?" The men could barely respond. 

From the crowd, one man said "gau hatyarey hai (They are cow killers)". I turned around to try and capture his face and he sped away on his mobike.

I started to film whatever I could on my phone. In the dark, badly-shot footage on my phone, you can hear my voice asking the police why they're not taking action against the attackers and the men who were applauding this horrific violence.

Instead, the police kept asking the victims for the details. I heard one of the men, still bleeding from the nose, respond feebly, muttering an address in Gurgaon. I intervened again, pleading with the police to take the men to the hospital. The police, brushing me aside, said that that's exactly what they were going to do and loaded the men into the van. One of the victims could barely stand. One of the constables said they were going to Holy Family Hospital.

Another man standing there, said 'Hum PFA ke hai, Maneka Gandhi ka group, Ashoka Road se (We are from the PFA, Maneka Gandhi's group, from Ashoka Road)." He alleged that the men had been cruel to the animals inside the truck - very different from the earlier accusation of cow slaughter.

At the Kalkaji Police Station, a police official, on the condition of anonymity, said that at 11:45 am, they got a call that a truck that was illegally carrying cattle was stopped. When the police reached the spot, they found that the trucks contained six to seven buffaloes, not cows. The conditional slaughter of buffaloes is legal in all states of India, including Delhi.

The police official said that the three victims of violence were taken to AIIMS Trauma Centre. He said he had no details of where the men were from - probably Haryana - and absolutely no idea of who the attackers were. But that the PFA had been working on a case that pertained to cruelty against animals so they will have to investigate. He said the buffaloes on the truck had been sent the SPCA, Tiz Hazari (probably the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). He said he would provide more details later.

At 1 am, he said the three men taken to the hospital were Rizwan, Kamil and Ashu and they had already been discharged. This was obviously not the case as Meghnad Bose a reporter of the online news portal The Quint, spoke to the victims at the AIIMS Trauma Centre at four in the morning. Five hours after the beating one of the victim, Ashu was still bleeding from injuries the DCP South-East Delhi termed "minor". 

Nothing I saw last night had to do with animals or of any cruelty against them. What I saw were blood-thirsty men who have now brought the familiar pattern of frightening cow-vigilantism into the heart of Delhi and a police whose only actions were directed at the victims who have now been arrested.

(Radhika Bordia is Features Editor at NDTV)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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