Feature: Violent raids by cow vigilantes grip Haryana’s Muslim villages

Vipul Kumar

Last week, videos of cow vigilantes open firing and forcefully abducting Muslims in Haryana’s Nuh were viral on social media.

In one of the videos, a vigilante group can be seen assaulting and dragging Rahish, a daily wage worker from Rawli, out of his home while his neighbours and others try to stop them. Locals told Maktoob that the mob constantly fired bullets and threatened them to stay away.

In yet another video, Rahish’s elder brother Haqmuddin Mohammad was assaulted by the same group that continuously threatened to kill people if they tried to stop them.


The mob can be heard saying, “don’t try to save him [Haqmuddin].. stay away.. we will shoot you.” (Chhodane ki koshish mat kariyo.. Dur ho jao.. Goli maar denge).

In the third video circulating online, the armed mob abducts a Muslim man, Sahib, in an SUV car (Mahindra Scorpio – HR 70 D 4177) from Shekhpur while a ‘Haryanvi’ song replaces the original audio.

Cow vigilantism have spiked in recent weeks as Muslims observe holy month of Ramadan. The Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act, 2015 have criminalised cow slaughting and eating beef in the state. Critics say the law is in violation of fundamental rights.

Maktoob visited Rawli and Shekhpur, where the incident happened.

Rawli

Aas Mohammad, elder brother of Rahish and Haqmuddin, claims that the incident occurred at 6 am on April 20 when the mob belonging to the extremist Hindu outfit Bajrang Dal raided the village. Armed men with saffron shawls began firing and raising Hindutva slogans.

“They abused my mother and my brother’s wife,” says Mohammed. “Police only arrived after one and half an hour”.

By giving a tour of  Rahish’s one-room house, with a ceiling of torn plastic and 3-4 grain containers in an open room with no gate Rahish’s brother Aas Mohammad said, “They abducted my brother and handed them to police”.

“I met my brother in Ferozpur Jhirka court; he was brutally assaulted; he was unconscious and could not even speak.”

“When I asked the police who beat my brother, they said it wasn’t them but Bajrang Dal.”

Police informed Mohammed that his brothers was injured by Bajrang Dal members and not police. The brothers were sent to jail for 14 days judicial custody for allegedly involved in cow slaughter.

“My son was beaten brutally with sticks, and dragged on in the streets by that mob. They have also looted 40,000 INR money and a motorcycle from my son Haqmuddin. The motorcycle was later found at the police station,” Haqmuddin’s mother, Asgari told Maktoob.

Haqmuddin`s wife showing scars on his 4-year-old son’s body, said, “they even beat this child as he started crying seeing his father being dragged. They beat me and abused me while trying to save my husband.”

Shekhpur

“On the early morning of April 23, when Sahib was out in fields to relieve himself as his house lacks a toilet, a mob attacked him,” Sahib’s father, Hoshiyaar, told Maktoob.

“In an accident, my brother was electrocuted and was injured badly. He is not well. Following Sahib to his residence, Bajrang Dal activists forcefully barged into my aunt’s house and abused women there,” claims Irfaan, Sahib’s brother.

Hoshiyar filed a police complaint but the name of perperaturs he mentioned were dropped by police in the FIR. The FIR says these were unidentified men.

“Those who have attacked us are from our nearby village. That’s why we know them”.

Hoshiyar has made allegations of abducting at gunpoint, looting and firing with the intention to kill. Attackers are seen with guns in the viral video from Shekhpur.

Villagers accuse police of being unfair.

“Why has the police lodged the FIR against unidentified people even if we have named the attackers?” asks Aasik Hussain, Sahib’s cousin.

Maktoob reached out to Nuh Police who declined to comment.

Maktoob obtained a copy of the FIR and confirmed that charges have been framed against three to four unidentified people under section 285, 294, 323, 342, 506 of IPC.

Meanwhile, Nuh Police arrested Sahib for alleged cow smuggling and booked him under sections 13 (1) and 13 (3) of The Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act, 2015.

Police said he was arrested by their staff during a raid in the village.

According  to Indian Express, SHO Ferozepur Jhirka, Arvind Kumar said, “we have registered an FIR in the matter.”

“Such raids by individuals are banned. Initially, they were police informers who were just keeping a tab on people engaged in cow slaughter.”

The Gaurakshaks also released videos claiming that the raids were conducted in police presence. Courtesy Maktoob Media