FARIDABAD: Five people were thrashed by cow vigilantes in Faridabad on the outskirts of the national capital Delhi on Friday morning on the suspicion of carrying beef in an auto rickshaw. Azad, the disabled rickshaw driver who had been hired to deliver the meat, bore the brunt of the attack.
- Men accused of carrying beef in an auto near Faridabad by cow vigilantes
- Crowd of about 40 people beat up men and relatives of driver
- Case filed against victims, taken back after meat turned out buffalo's
The incident took place when Azad was driving to Faridabad to deliver buffalo meat to a shop. He was accompanied by Sonu, 14, an employee of the meat supplier.
They were stopped by six men, travelling in a car, who accused him of transporting beef.
"I told them it wasn't beef and we could go to the police... but they didn't listen," Azad later told NDTV. They took them away to Bajri village a short distance away.
Surrounded by about 40 people, the cow vigilantes started raining blows on him and kicked him. At some point, he called up home to tell them about the situation. When his brother and other relatives reached, they were beaten up too.
He was thrashed by the cow vigilantes for what he says seemed like eternity.
"When I could no longer take the pain... I fell unconscious," he said, showing big black and blue patches on his back, arm and legs. Azad said he must have been out for two hours or so.
When he came around, his attackers were still around. They weren't done with him yet.
They wanted him to say "Jai Hanuman".
"I said I will not say. They said "Say Jai Gau Mata". I refused. They said we are going to feed you pork (that is strictly prohibited in Islam) if you don't. I told them, do what you want, I will not say," he said.
The police say they had initially filed a case against the victims under Haryana's law against cow smuggling but were withdrawing it later after confirming that it was buffalo meat, not cow meat.
The assault comes just a month after the Supreme Court delivered a strong message on cow vigilantism and told states to crack down to curb the increasing instances of cow vigilantism.
A few days back, RSS Mohan Bhagwat had stressed on a distinction between "pious" gau rakshaks, or cow protectors and criminals.
"People who are criminal and involved in violent activities should be bothered about that (remarks from Supreme Court and PM Modi)," Mr Bhagwat had said in his speech on the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh's foundation day.