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The victims of the attack are currently recovering in a hospital in Mangaluru

Man with injuries on his body
news Crime Friday, April 02, 2021 - 12:58

Police in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka arrested five people after two men were waylaid by a group of cow vigilantes over the suspicion that they were transporting cattle. However, there was no cattle found in the vehicle the two men were travelling in. The incident took place in Melanthabettu in Belthangady in the district on Wednesday night when Abdul Rahim and Muhammad Mustafa were travelling in a pick-up truck. When the duo reached the Melanthabettu gram panchayat, they were stopped by men on two bikes. After the vehicle was stopped, another car arrived with more men who attacked Abdul and Muhammad with clubs and threatened to end their life. 

"We were stopped by two bikes and then they asked if we were transporting cows. More people came in another car and started beating us up with wooden clubs and iron rods," Mustafa said. As per the complainant, the cow vigilante group attacked them without checking the pick-up vehicle. The duo were hospitalised on Thursday after suffering grievous injuries and are currently in a private hospital in Mangaluru. 

The police arrested Rajesh Bhat, a candidate in the gram panchayat elections in 2020, along with his brother Rakesh Bhat, Guruprasad, Lokesh and Chidananda. "Rajesh Bhat contested the Gram Panchayat elections against a rival Sharief and Rajesh lost the elections. A group of men connected to Rajesh stopped the vehicle and assaulted the two men. There was no cattle found in this vehicle but Rajesh suspected that Sharief was transporting five cattle that night," a senior police official told TNM.

Police are also looking for three others involved in the assault who are part of the Bajrang Dal, a right-wing Hindu group, including a person named Sabu identified by the two victims. However, police officials said all members of the group which attacked were not affiliated to the Bajrang Dal. 

A case was registered at the Belthangady police station in connection with the case under sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 341 (wrongful restraint), 355 (assault), 326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt), 504 (insult), 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code, as per a statement issued by the Dakshina Kannada SP BM Laxmi Prasad. 

The act of transporting cattle was made illegal in February when the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill 2020 was passed in the Legislative Council. It was earlier passed in the Legislative Assembly and had received the Governor's assent. Slaughtering of nearly all cattle — cow, calf of cow, bull, bullock — is now illegal in the state. It also gives the police powers to search and seize on the basis of “reason to believe” that cattle is being sold, purchased or disposed of for the purpose of slaughter. 

Crucially, this law protects ‘good samaritans’ or persons who act in good faith and inform the police about suspected cattle transport or sale. 

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