By Prarthana Mitra
The latest incidence of cow vigilantism has shaken up Rajasthan’s Alwar district whereby a victim was beaten to death late on Friday, by a group of men who stopped him in Lalwandi while he was transporting cows on foot.
Here’s what happened
On the night of July 20, Rakbar Khan alias Akbar in his early thirties and father to seven was allegedly killed on suspicion of being a cow smuggler. He was accompanied by his brother Aslam who managed to escape the lynching while Akbar was mercilessly beaten. In a statement to the Alwar police on Sunday, Aslam claims that the assailants identified as MLA’s men and were confident that no one could harm them. The investigation has since been transferred to Jaipur jurisdiction.
Shocking details have since come to light, regarding the police’s handling of the matter. While they had reached the spot of the lynching at 1 am, hospital records show Akbar was brought in at 4 am where he was declared dead. Accounts that the police stopped on their way to the hospital for tea as Akbar bled to death, have surfaced and sparked considerable outrage.
Aslam’s statement comes at a time when the state government has been accused of several lapses by the police in the recent past. Ramgarh MLA Gyan Dev Ahuja has even asked for a judicial enquiry, saying that cow vigilantes were being unfairly scapegoated. He has openly challenged IPS officers (Assistant SP) Anil Beniwal and (former Alwar SP) Rahul Prakash, asking, “If he was severely injured then why didn’t the police immediately take him to the hospital? What did they do with him till 4 am? I have initiated action against Rahul Prakash.”
On the delay in taking Rakbar to the hospital, Special Director General N R K Reddy mentioned an “error in judgement” by the policemen. State DGP O P Galhotra has sought a probe to look into “connected issues related with the murder of Akbar”.
The Rajasthan and Haryana governments each have assured a sum of Rs 5 lakh to the family, Akbar’s brother Shaheem told The Indian Express.
Why it matters
Just a day after the Alwar lynching, RSS leader Indresh Kumar declared, “Lynchings will stop if people don’t eat beef.” The central government’s open disdain for beef consumption and cow slaughter has emboldened a lot of right-wing groups to take the matter in their own hands, leading to an alarming increase in lynching of predominantly Muslim men, around major cow belts in North India. In fact, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Gau Raksha Cell is specifically tasked with informing local police about potential “cow smugglers”.
It is absurd to even think that we live in a country where cows are better protected than human beings, and it certainly does not help when the government remains silent in apparent condonation of the vigilante violence. The Supreme Court, however, has recently ordered it to form laws against crimes that fall under lynching, to spare the lives of people like Akbar and put an end to such borderline communal violence.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.