Bajrang vigilantes cry cow-slaughter, beat, humiliate Muslim trader

FP

A Muslim cattle trader's son was beaten and part of his head, one eyebrow and half his moustache shaved off by alleged Bajrang Dal workers in Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh after he refused to give them money to allow him to ferry cattle which the attackers alleged were meant for slaughter.

Police rescued the 25-year-old victim, Anish Aslam Kureshi, but charged him with unlawfully transporting cattle for slaughter under a state law for preserving cattle, and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. A sessions court in Chhindwara ordered his release on bail today.

His attackers, whom the police identified as Bajrang Dal workers, were also arrested, but were charged with minor offences. They were released almost immediately by the Bichhua police station.

On December 22, a tough new Madhya Pradesh anti-cow slaughter law providing for seven years in jail for eating beef, empowering police to carry out raids on mere suspicion, and putting the burden of proving innocence on the accused received presidential assent.

Kureshi was not charged under this law.

According to Kureshi's father Aslam Kureshi who met Governor Ram Naresh Yadav in Bhopal today, his son was waylaid by a Bajrang Dal group at Sarangbihari in the small hours of December 31. The men demanded money to allow him to pass, and when Anish refused, they damaged the Bolero pick-up he was driving, and dragged him to Goni village some two kilometres away.

They took away the Rs 8,315, mobile phone and ATM card that Anish was carrying, and after tying him to a pole, beat and shaved him, Kureshi told the Governor. He was about to be paraded in the village when police rescued him, Kureshi said.

Kureshi alleged the Bajrang Dal workers had torn up the receipt that proved the cattle in Anish's vehicle had been purchased the previous day from a fair in Chandgram. The cattle were meant for sale in Umranala bazaar, the family said, and denied that they were headed for a slaughterhouse.

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