In what appears to be a case of violence in the guise of animal welfare, two cattle traders and the driver of their truck were attacked in the heart of Delhi late on 22 April. The three men, who were transporting 14 buffaloes in a truck, were attacked by a group claiming to be “animal welfare activists” near the capital’s Kalkaji Mandir area.
The men who were beaten up were arrested by the Delhi Police under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act on 23 April. However, the police are yet to arrest any of the people who allegedly assaulted them.
Close to midnight on 22 April, the police control room in Delhi received a call from animal welfare activists, reportedly from an organisation named People For Animals, about a truck that was allegedly transporting animals illegally.
R Baaniya of Delhi Police told ANIThree people took buffaloes for legal slaughter where PFA (People for Animals) entered into a scuffle. Not Gau Raksha Dal, they were members of an NGO which has been working for many years in Delhi.
Exclusive: Cow vigilantes beat up 3 men in Delhi. Ashu,the cattle trader is bleeding under his eye & says that he was transporting buffaloes pic.twitter.com/CPGRLB4dBB— The Quint (@TheQuint) April 23, 2017
On reaching the spot, the police discovered that the three men had been beaten up. The three were then rushed to the AIIMS Trauma Centre for treatment. The cattle traders have been identified as Ashu and Kamil, while the driver of the truck has been identified as Rizwan.
All three are residents of Pataudi, Haryana, and are in their twenties. The three were on their way to sell the buffaloes at the Ghazipur Mandi, when they were waylaid on the road opposite Kalkaji Mandir.
At around 1 am, Ved Prakash, Station House Officer (SHO) at the Kalkaji police station told The Quint:
The three men have sustained minor wounds and have been taken to AIIMS. We don’t know yet where the truck was coming from.
While the police dismissed the injuries sustained by the three men as being “extremely minor,” The Quint managed to meet and speak to the injured men while they were being transported from AIIMS to the Kalkaji Police Station a little after 4 am.
The three said that they had been severely beaten up by around 15 men. Cattle trader Ashu had a bleeding cut under his left eye.
Cattle trader Ashu to @TheQuint :"There were 10 to 15 men who stopped our truck. They started beating us up. We only had buffaloes, no cows"— Meghnad Bose (@MeghnadBose93) April 23, 2017
On being asked if the three men were doing anything illegal, the SHO told The Quint:
Ved PrakashAs of now, we are investigating the matter. The truck has been taken for further investigation. After inquiries, we will take action as per law.
The truck and the animals are currently at Tis Hazari. Police said they could not ascertain if cow vigilantes were involved in the incident, but added that they were probing the role of animal welfare activists from the People For Animals group.
The Quint spoke to two men who claimed to be eyewitnesses to the violence. Bijender Kumar, a resident of Pataudi, says he happened to be passing by the area when he noticed the commotion. It was only after he got closer that Kumar and his friend Md Ashfaq realised that the men who were getting beaten up were acquaintances from Pataudi.
Kumar told The Quint: “In my estimate, there were around 50 people gathered there. Several of them were just standing and watching. The three men from Pataudi were being beaten up. We were in two minds about intervening too. Maybe we would have got beaten up as well.”
Zahid Pataudi, a neighbour of the victims, reached AIIMS after hearing about the incident. He is furious with the self-proclaimed “animal protectors”.
How can they take the law into their own hands? It’s okay that they want to be ‘people for animals’. But who are they to beat up people and act in such a manner?
The three men were discharged from AIIMS a little after 4 am and were then taken to Kalkaji Police Station by the cops.
According to reports, two separate police complaints have been filed – one against the cattle traders and another against those who allegedly assaulted them.
(This story has been updated.)