Mumbai: A group of young men punching and kicking a cornered man, a heap of meat lying on ground nearby: A shocking video from Malegaon, an area in Maharashtra's Washim district, shows yet another incident of alleged cow vigilantism. The men targeted, the police said, were said to be selling beef, which is banned in the state. Samples of the meat have been sent for forensic tests, said the police, who have arrested seven men.
In the video, the assailants can be seen raining blows on a young man. One of them has a saffron scarf draped across his neck. As the elderly man accompanying him tries to shield him, the assailants haul away the young man by his collar and punch him till he collapses.
The footage was apparently recorded on May 26 - the day a new law from the Centre banning the slaughter of cattle sold at animal markets came into effect. The law practically stops largescale slaughter of cattle.
Recently, the increase of incidents of violence has made central ministers to speak up against cow vigilantism. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had used his first-ever townhall to deliver a lacerating statement on cow vigilantes. In August, after four Dalits were thrashed in Gujarat, PM Modi said most who called themselves gau rakshaks are "anti-social elements hiding behind the mask".
Last week, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari again drew the line between cow protection and vigilantism, saying the BJP and its ministers don't support "Whatever is happening in the name of gau raksha". "You cannot take law in your own hands," he said.
The blame, he said, lies with the men caught breaking the law, who then claim they belong to the BJP.
"Sometimes I am astonished to see on television -- anyone says he belongs to BJP. Neither was that person in BJP, nor did we have any relationship with him... They say all wrong things against us," the minister said.