Eighteen members of the Hindu Jagarana Vedike were arrested on Wednesday by the Udupi district police on charges of murdering a BJP worker who was transporting three calves.
The deceased identified as Praveen Poojary, a tempo driver, was on hire and was transporting the calves along with his friend Akshay Devadiga.
"Around 9 pm, a group of 17 men led by Srikanth, an HJV member, waylaid the tempo in Kegige, in Hebri police station limits, and attacked the two with rods. Both were seriously injured and the attackers took them to Kenjur in Brahmavar, which happens to be Praveen's native place too," said Udupi SP KT Balakrishna. The attackers took Praveen and Akshay to Kenjur village because the attackers wanted to show the villagers that the duo were transporting cattle, he said.
“The Brahmavar police was immediately informed and they arrested six people, including Srikanth. The weapons used were also seized. The other 12 were arrested later in the night."
Praveen died while he and Akshay were being taken to Kenjur. The Udupi police have registered a case of murder.
Balakrishna said that he had met Praveen's father and his sister, who told him that Praveen often gave his tempo out on hire.
"On Wednesday he had left home at 8:30pm. He told his sister that he would be back soon. However, he did not tell them where he was going and what he was transporting," he said.
He added that Akshay's condition is critical and the police are investigating into who had hired Praveen and where he was transporting the calves.
BJP leader and former Udupi MLA Raghupathy Bhat condemned the brutal attack on Praveen Poojary and said that the attackers should severely be punished.
"Praveen was a diligent BJP worker for more than eight years. He was working as a driver and could be hired by anyone. I don't think he was told that he had to transport cattle. Even if he was wrong the attackers should have informed the police and not brutally beaten them up. If the attackers call themselves members of Hindu Jagarana Vedike, they don't deserve to be with affiliated with it," he said.
It’s not right to drag Hindu Jagrana Vedike’s name into cow vigilante attack: Jagadish Karanth
Hindu Jagrana Vedike Karnataka convenor Jagadish Karanth has denied the involvement of its cadre in the attack.
He told Suvarna News 24x7 that the HJV organization was being “dragged into” the whole episode. He said that if its activists were responsible for the attack, strict action would be taken against them.
On Wednesday night, vigilantes, allegedly belonging to the Hindu Jagrana Vedike assaulted two men who were transporting cows with rods. One of them, Praveen Poojary succumbed to injuries. Photographs of his body show his skin discoloured in several places due to bruises. He has also sustained bloody injury on his legs.
“This is the first time that such an instance is occurring in Udupi, even though there is continuous transporting of cows to Kerala. Such incidents would not occur if the district administration took measures to stop illegal transport of cows. It is not right to drag the Hindu Jagrana Vedike’s name into this,” Jagadish told Suvarna news.
To his own cadre, Jagadish said: “Be prepared for the protection of cows, but do not inflict violence. If you find cows being transported illegally, hand over such people to the district administration.”