Police yet to arrest killers of Himachal cattle smuggler

Indo Asian News Service

Shimla, Oct 17 (IANS) The Himachal Pradesh Police on Saturday failed to arrest the villagers who lynched an alleged cattle smuggler in Sirmaur district two days back.

Noman Akhtar, a resident of Saharanpur district in Uttar Pradesh, who was allegedly smuggling cattle along with four other people, was beaten to death by a mob after nearly four hours of being chased in the forests near a village some 28 km from Nahan town on Wednesday.

His accomplices, who were injured in the incident, have been referred to a government hospital in Nahan.

"The search operation is on to arrest the accused. We have added section 302 (murder) in the case," Superintendent of Police Somya Sambasivan told IANS.

"We will arrest the accused soon. It is probable that the people, five or six, who alerted the police about the illegal cattle transportation might have killed Noman," she added.

The police have booked Noman's accomplices - Gulzar, Gulfam, Mohammad Nishu and Salman - under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act. All belonged to Saharanpur district.

Refuting the allegations of the involvement of any political party in the incident, the police official said: "We cannot comment on the political affiliation of the assailants."

She said Noman, whose medical report confirmed he received "multifarious blunt injuries", was an undertrial in another cattle theft case.

The opposition BJP has blamed the state Congress government for its failure to check smuggling of cattle from the state.

"The incident clearly reflects the failure of the government to act against the cattle smugglers," BJP spokesperson Ganesh Dutt told reporters here.

State Congress spokesperson Naresh Chauhan said the party asked Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh to take tough action against the smuggling of cattle.

Describing the incident of lynching of an accused as unfortunate, he said the people "took the law into their hands and is very shameful."

Police officials say Sirmaur district, bordering Uttarakhand and Haryana, is used as a transit route for smuggling cattle from Punjab to Uttar Pradesh. Cases of cattle theft are also common in the district.

--Indo-Asian news Service