New Delhi: Two days after 10-15 men claiming to be gau rakshaks (cow protectors) allegedly beat to death 40-year-old Raja Ram, caretaker at a farmhouse in northwest Delhi’s Dwarka, and injured five others, the police are yet to identify the accused. However, Delhi Police have arrested five of the people who were assaulted, on allegations of “killing cattle” and “criminal conspiracy”.
The police registered two FIRs Tuesday in connection with the case — one based on a complaint by one of the injured men, and another on the basis of allegations from local residents that Ram and others were slaughtering cows at the farmhouse.
Speaking to ThePrint, Shankar Choudhary, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Dwarka, said that the case came to light after a complaint that cows were being slaughtered at the farmhouse.
“We received a tip-off on Monday, late at night, that cow slaughter was taking place at this farmhouse. When our team reached, we found that there was an altercation underway and some miscreants were hurting a handful of people. We have registered an FIR in both the cases.”
According to a police source, the carcasses of four cows were recovered from the premises where the scuffle was taking place.
The police immediately arrested Ram and five other men who were being beaten by the mob and took them for medical examination, the source said. Ram, who had sustained severe injuries, succumbed during treatment, the source added.
When asked why the perpetrators of the attack have not been identified yet, the DCP said he was “personally” heading the investigation team.
“It is unfortunate that both cases took place under my watch, in my area. I will try my best to fulfil my duty and find out who these miscreants were,” he said.
Investigations so far suggest that Ram was involved in a “conspiracy” with some beef dealers and provided them with cows and a place to slaughter them, a police source said. The slaughter, the source added, took place at a tree-filled portion of the farm.
However, Ram’s wife says that she finds the allegations against him hard to believe since he “loved” cows.
‘How could they think that Ram would slaughter cows?’
Raja Ram’s distraught wife cannot come to terms with the accusations against her husband, she told ThePrint.
“I still can’t believe that he was killed over suspicion of cow slaughter. Everyone knew about our love of cows,” she said, weeping.
“We have eight cows and Ram took care of all of them. People abandon cows that stop giving milk, but we were even taking care of them, feeding them. How could they think that Ram would slaughter cows? I am shocked,” she said.
According to Jhaso Devi, Ram was suffering from a liver ailment and, to raise money for his treatment, he started a side business of selling cow milk locally about 1.5 years ago.
Family friend and neighbour Umesh shared Jhaso Devi’s disbelief about the allegations against Raja Ram.
“I have known them since they migrated from Bihar. Raja Ram was not involved in any shady cow meat business. He was merely trying to earn something extra as he had mounting medical expenses. It is bizarre how he was targeted by gau rakshaks,” he said.
The family has two rooms attached to the property where they keep their cows. An electric auto is also parked here — Ram would drive it to earn some extra cash when he felt well enough to do so, Jhaso Devi said.
Raja Ram was a caretaker at the farmhouse for the past two years, before which he performed a similar role at another property nearby.
‘He got a phone call at night, left, and never came back’
Jhaso Devi told ThePrint that her husband received a phone call asking him to come to the farmhouse Monday night. Since then, she said, she has been living a nightmare.
“My husband got a call from someone and he left in the night itself. I don’t know what happened after that. The police woke me up in the morning and took my phone away when I sought help in contacting our employer,” she said.
The police, she added, also detained her son who works at a gaushala (cow shelter), but let him go after his employer advocated for him.
DCP Shankar did not respond to calls and texts seeking comments on Ram’s son’s alleged detention or about the confiscation of Jhaso Devi’s phone.
The family still does not have custody of Ram’s body, which is awaiting autopsy at Rao Tula Ram Memorial Hospital. His relatives say they don’t know how long they will have to wait.
“We have been running from pillar to post but no one is telling us anything. We approached the police in person but they are asking us to wait. It has been two days already. We are not sure how this happened as we belong to a Hindu family in Bihar,” Raja Ram’s brother Angad said.
(Edited by Asavari Singh)