Seven months after Pehlu Khan was lynched while transporting cattle in Rajasthan’s Alwar district, another dairy farmer Ummar Khan has been murdered allegedly by cow vigilantes again in Gopalgarh village of the district.
The mutilated body of the 35-year-old was reportedly found by police near a railway track on November 10 morning. Ummar was travelling with two other men, Tahir Khan and Javed, with whom he had purchased cows in Alwar.
The dairy farmers were travelling in a pick-up truck with three cows and three calves around dawn, as per different news reports. They were on their way to Bharatpur from Gahenkar village in Alwar, when they were stopped and surrounded by seven or eight people, who opened fire on them.
Ummer died on the spot. Tahir has suffered critical bullet wounds and has been admitted to a hospital at Ferozepur in Haryana, while Javed is missing.
Ummar’s body was shifted to the mortuary of Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital in Alwar. It was identified by his relatives on morning of November 12.
An FIR was lodged at the Govindgarh police station on November 12 by Ummar’s relatives, alleging that he was killed by cow vigilantes.
Ummar, Tahir and Javed belong to the Meo Muslim community, which has a significant presence in the Mewat region of Rajasthan, under which Alwar district falls. The attack took place a day before chief minister Vasundhara Raje was to visit Mewat. Members of the community have been protesting outside the district hospital in Alwar, demanding action against the attackers.
Ummar’s uncle told ANI, “I don't know who killed him but he was not a cow smuggler. He had three cows of his own. We want justice for him. He was killed brutally.”
On November 12, police detained one person with alleged links to cow vigilante groups.
However, police on November 10 had lodged a case under the Rajasthan Bovine Animal (Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Act 1995, based on the cows that were found – including a dead cow – inside the pick-up truck, Alwar SP Rahul Prakash told the media.
Activist Mohammed Hanif, a former member of the People's Union for Civil Liberties, was quoted as saying, “This is a shame on humanity. Not only was Ummar murdered by cow vigilantes, but his body was tampered with at the mortuary to erase signs of bullet injury.”
Political parties too have condemned the attack, which is the latest among a series of murders and mob lynchings of Muslims and Dalits over allegations of smuggling cows or eating beef that began soon after the Narendra Modi-led BJP government came to power at the Centre.
The Alwar District Congress minority cell president Jamshed Khan led the protests outside the hospital in Alwar. He alleged that the cops present at the scene of crime did not deter the attackers. “There is a suspicion that the policemen might have joined cow vigilantes in the assault,” Khan told the Hindu.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) condemned the murder as well as the case lodged by the Rajasthan Police against the victims themselves.
“Very recently the Supreme Court had given strict instructions to the Central and state governments to prevent such attacks and take strict action in such incidents of vigilantism. It had in fact said that in every district a senior police officer should be designated to be responsible for this. It had also said that proper compensation should be paid to the victims,” the CPI (M) said in a press statement.
The party demanded that the Centre and the Rajasthan government abide by the SC directions, ensuring that the culprits are brought to book and the victims’ families are compensated adequately.
On April 1 in Alwar district, 55-year-old dairy farmer Pehlu Khan, from Nuh district of Haryana, was brutally lynched while returning from a cattle fair on Jaipur’s outskirts by a group of 200 cow vigilantes affiliated with right-wing Hindutva groups. Six others, who were with Pehlu Khan, were also beaten up by the cow vigilantes. The attack, along with other similar crimes by cow vigilantes, sparked nationwide outrage.