New Delhi: Amid outrage over the killing of a man by cow vigilantes in Rajasthan's Alwar, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi triggered a howl of protests in parliament today as he said: "No such incident took place as described by opposition."
Responding to opposition fury in the Rajya Sabha, Mr Naqvi said that the media report had been denied by the state's Vasundhara Raje government. "We don't condone lawlessness. No message should go that we are justifying such incidents."
The Congress, which chorused that there was a "constitutional breakdown in the state" hit back. "The minister (Mr Naqvi) is ill-informed. Indian and Foreign press has written that man was beaten to death," said the party's Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Pehlu Khan, a dairy owner, and four of his companions were attacked and beaten while they were on their way back to Haryana after buying cows at a Jaipur fair. They reportedly produced documents to show they had bought the cows for milk, but whether these were valid - which is being investigated now by cops - became irrelevant as the mob chased, kicked and punched them.
Right after the incident, none of the attackers were arrested. The police, instead, filed cases against the men who were attacked and beaten unconscious, accusing them of smuggling cows. Three attackers were arrested last night.
After Pehlu Khan died on Tuesday night and a mobile video of the attack went viral online, a murder case was filed, but the attackers were still not named.
Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria said both sides were to blame, and described the deadly assault as "manhandling".
"Smuggling of cows is a crime in Rajasthan, which is why a case has been filed against them. We have filed a case against the other party too, for manhandling those transporting cows," Mr Kataria said in an interview to NDTV.
Citing public sentiment, the minister said in another comment, "The law prohibits transporting cows for slaughter purposes. Which is why the general public is outraged with such incidents. Police stops these vehicles carrying cows and send the cow to gau-shalas (cow sheds). But no one can take the law into their hands, we have filed cases against both parties and will take action.