As reported in the ANI, the victims were transporting the cattle from MP to Maharashtra for an animal fair when they were attacked by almost 100 villagers from Savalikeda village. The vigilantes alleged that the men were transporting around 20 cattle for slaughter and had no valid documents to support their claims that the cattle were for the fair. Consequently, they were overpowered, tied up and paraded through the streets on their way to Khalwa police station, which is approximately three kilometres from the village.
In an extremely disturbing video that has gone viral on social media, around 15 men can be seen tied together with a rope and holding their ears amid cries of ‘Gau mata ki Jai.’ The video also shows a man in a white shirt using what appears to be a mobile phone to take a close-up video or photograph of each man’s face, while at least two others stand guard over the tied-up men.
“Villagers brought the group transporting cows to our police station. We seized 21 trucks used for the purpose. The cows have been shifted to a shelter. They were taking the cows from Harda district in MP to Maharashtra,” said Inspector Harishanker Rawat of Khalwa police station.
According to district police superintendent Shivdayal Singh, the men claimed to own the cattle being transported but could not prove that claim. “With none of the 24 men possessing valid documents to prove their claims and also transporting the cattle in vehicles in consonance with relevant guidelines, they were arrested and booked under the provisions of the Madhya Pradesh Govansh Vadh Pratishedh Adhiniyam and provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,” he said.
Singh further said, “A case has been registered under the relevant sections, there were around 7-8 pick-up vehicles, they have been brought to the station. Case has also been registered against those who made them chant…for ill-treating those booked for unauthorised cattle transport.”
It is pertinent to note that this horrific incident comes just a day before the commencement of the monsoon session of the MP government in which the Kamal Nath-led Congress government is set to introduce a law against cow vigilantism. With the MP Cabinet clearing the amendment to its Madhya Pradesh Gauvansh Vadh Pratishedh Adhiniyam, 2004, the amendment, if passed, will bring the cow vigilantes under the scanner and those found guilty of violence shall be imprisoned for six months to three years, and a fine of Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000. At present, offences related to cow vigilantism are dealt under the Indian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure.
MP will then become the first state to have a law against cow vigilantism, one year after the Supreme Court (SC) had condemned the rising incidents of mob lynching across the nation and urged the Parliament to enact a law to deal with the crime that threatens the rule of law and the country’s social fabric. In a writ petition filed by Tehseen Poonawalla, the SC gave a list of directions, including preventive, remedial and punitive steps, to deal with the crime.
MP government’s decision to introduce such a law comes in the wake of an incident near Kachhiwara, under Dundaseoni police station in Seoni district, on May 22, when five people thrashed three persons, including a Muslim man and woman, on suspicion of carrying beef. The police had arrested Shubam Baghel, who identified himself as the Seoni district president of Hindutva organisation Shri Ram Sena, and his four accomplices. The victims were also arrested for allegedly carrying beef.