FIVE years after Rakbar Khan, a resident of Haryana’s Nuh district, was lynched in Rajasthan on the suspicion of cow smuggling, Alwar’s Additional District and Sessions Court has sentenced four cow vigilantes to seven years’ imprisonment. Having purchased the cows from Alwar, Rakbar and his friend Aslam Khan were taking them to Haryana when they were accosted and thrashed by local residents on the intervening night of July 20-21, 2018. While Aslam had managed to flee, Rakbar had succumbed to his injuries.
Alwar district had witnessed a similar incident in 2017. Rajasthan dairy farmer Pehlu Khan was attacked by a mob when he and others were transporting cattle from a weekly market in Jaipur to their village in Nuh. Unfortunately, justice has not been done in that case as the six persons accused of the crime were acquitted in 2019 by a sessions court, which gave them the benefit of the doubt on the basis of the police probe. The court, however, had pointed out ‘serious shortcomings’ in the investigation.
The Rakbar case verdict comes days after the Rajasthan police named 21 persons, including Bajrang Dal member Monu Manesar, in the FIR pertaining to the abduction and murder of two Muslim men, Junaid and Nasir, whose charred bodies were found in Haryana’s Bhiwani district in February. It is suspected that lapses on the part of cops led to the gruesome crime. There is no denying that cow vigilantes have become a law unto themselves due to political patronage and police laxity. Cow protection is being used as a pretext to victimise members of a minority community. The onus is on the law enforcers to crack the whip on groups which resort to extortion and violence against law-abiding dairy farmers and cattle traders. Those involved in cow smuggling must be dealt with by the police, not by bloodthirsty mobs. It’s imperative to expose not only the criminals masquerading as gau rakshaks but also the cops who are in league with them.
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