Shimla: A 20-year-old Muslim from Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh was allegedly beaten to death and four others with him have been injured at Sirmaur in the Sarahan area of Himachal Pradesh by villagers who believed they were involved in smuggling of cattle, according to local police.
The victim has been identified as Noman, a resident of Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh. His four friends thrashed by the mob are Mohammad Nishu (37), Salman (20), Gulzar (22) and Gulfam (24).
Though the police booked a case against unidentified persons for the alleged murder of Noman, it also booked cases under different Sections of the Cruelty against Animals Act against the four accussing them to be part of a ' cattle smuggling gang' and arrested them later.
According to police, the incident took place Wednesday night, when villagers noticed a “rashly driven” truck with cattle heading towards Nahan-Paonta Sahib, bordering Dehradun. Suspecting that the cattle were being taken to Uttar Pradesh for slaughter, a few people chased the truck and alerted the local police station, police said.
But before police could intercept the vehicle on Sarahan-Nahan road, the truck crashed as the driver failed to negotiate a sharp turn. Police said villagers then secured the cattle, caught four people travelling in the truck and beat them up.
Police said the victim, Noman, was travelling in a different vehicle that was allegedly escorting the truck. According to police, villagers also caught Noman and beat him.
The five men eventually escaped by rolling down a mountainside, but villagers caught four of them again and handed them over to the police. Police found a critically-injured Noman by the mountainside the next day. He was taken to a local hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries Thursday.
The incident followed the lynching of a 50-year-old Muslim man, Mohammad Akhlaque, in Dadri, Greater Noida, on mere rumuors that he had eaten cow meat. The forensic probe however later came to conclusion that the meat Akhlaque had consumed was of mutton, not cow.
BJP spokesperson Chandra Mohan Thakur from Nahan has blamed the Congress government in the Himachal for failing to check the illegal cattle trade. In return, the Himachal Congress has demanded the immediate arrest of those involved in the lynching.
Meanwhile, tension and display of public anger was reported from the Behat area in Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh after the lynching of Noman in Himachal.
Noman’s family alleged that it was the Bajrang Dal activists who beat him to death. Noman used to work as daily wage labourer.
Imran Asghar, a relative of Noman, told The Hindu on the phone, “You can’t kill people like this. What has happened to this country? Even if he was found to be with cows it does not mean that you would lynch the person.”
“We are extremely poor people. Most members of Noman’s family are daily wage labourers. He was working as a daily worker and working for somebody who were doing this criminal act,” Asghar said.
The Bajrang Dal activists have been alleging that smuggling of cattle from Himachal, Haryana and Punjab to Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh has been going on for sometime. There are a large number of stray cattle abandoned by farmers in the countryside in Himachal Pradesh and they are smuggled outside the State by people hired by meat traders of Saharanpur.