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Cow vigilantes blamed as Bihar JD(U) worker assaulted on video for ‘eating beef’ is found dead

Khalil Ahmed went missing on 16 February, and his charred body was found on 18 February. Viral Instagram video shows him being beaten up by cow vigilantes. One suspect arrested.

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Patna: Cow vigilantes are suspected to have killed a 32-year-old Janata Dal (United) worker, Khalil Ahmed alias Rizvi, in Bihar’s Samastipur district last week. 

A video clip shared on social media purportedly shows at least two persons beating Khalil up with canes, pulling him by the hair and asking him how much beef he ate and who slaughtered “gau mata“.   

Khalil was said to have been close to senior JD(U) leader and Bihar Education Minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary. 

Police have arrested one person in the case, Krishna Kumar Jha, who is believed to be among those seen attacking Khalil in the video.

Jha admitted he and the others beat up the JD(U) worker, but denied killing him, according to police sources.

However, Samastipur Superintendent of Police (SP) Hriday Kant said the video was filmed by the persons who killed Khalil Ahmed.

Khalil, a resident of Musrigharari in Samastipur, ran an NGO. On 16 February, he went out to buy vegetables, but did not return home.

On 18 February, Khalil’s charred body was found by police near the banks of the Burhi Gandak river. 

The chilling video went viral before his body was found, purportedly showing the JD(U) worker surrounded by a group of persons who were beating him up and abusing him. 

The video was released from the Instagram handle of a youth, Anurag Jha, who is on the run. An FIR has been lodged against Anurag Jha and others involved in the incident.

The sections invoked include those for kidnapping or abducting in order to murder, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony, and putting person in fear of injury in order to commit extor­tion.

“The video came to our notice on 19 February. It had objectionable contents. The video was shot before Khalil was killed. It was released from the Instagram handle of Anurag Jha. Since then we have conducted raids and arrested one person,” Hriday Kant told ThePrint. 


Also read: Cow vigilantes killed at least 44 people in three years, report finds


Contents of disturbing video

The person shooting the video purportedly repeatedly threatens Khalil, asking for details of someone who “slaughters cattle and sells beef”. 

“Tell me who chops the beef? When is it slaughtered? Does he sell cow’s meat daily? Have you ever eaten cow’s meat?” he is heard asking.

Khalil, looking terrified, mumbles a butcher’s name from the Faqir caste and then admits to having eaten beef. At this, he is beaten up and asked to admit it loudly. 

“How much of it have you eaten to date?” asks the person. After Khalil apparently admits to having eaten 50 kg, the assailant asks, “You digested 50 kilos of cow’s meat? Tell me who all are involved in slaughtering gau mata in Musrigharari?”

Beaten all through this, Khalil purportedly responds by saying that it’s in some other village, not in the one where he lived. He is also seen in the purported video saying beef was sold at Rs 140 a kg. 

The man shooting the video is heard questioning, “Where is it written in the Quran that you have to eat cow’s meat? There is chicken, khaasi (mutton), why don’t you eat all of that? Did you also feed the beef to your kids?” 

Khalil is then seen saying “Abse nahin khaenge (won’t eat from now)”. 

None of the assailants’ faces is visible in the video. 

In the caption of the Instagram video, written in Hindi, Anurag Jha states, “I request all my Hindu brothers to watch this video till the end and take the right decision and share it so that those robbing the poor and those who slaughter and eat cows remain in fear and dare not touch gau mata.”

SP Hriday Kant said the “investigation so far reveals that the video was made to create communal tension, so that the accused could save themselves once the police caught them for the murder”. Police, he said, has written to Instagram to take the video down. 

Arrested accused tagged in post

The arrested youth, Krishna Kumar Jha, was tagged in Anurag Jha’s post. Krishna Kumar admitted before police that he and the others beat up Khalil, but denied killing him, according to police sources. 

“Our motive was to stop cow slaughter,” Krishna Kumar was quoted as having said to the police. 

Police sources in Samastipur said they suspect more motives to the murder than just cow slaughter. 

The sources said the killers had targeted Khalil because he had taken money, promising them government jobs. 

“Just after Khalil disappeared, a phone came to his home, demanding Rs 5 lakh, as Khalil had taken money from the caller. But this angle is yet to be investigated. We are focussing on the arrest of the culprits,” said a police officer. 

For now, the police are not commenting on whether the accused persons belonged to any political party or other organisation. 

Cow vigilantism in Bihar 

There have been several cases over the past few years of self-styled cow vigilantes taking the law into their hands in Bihar. 

In August 2017, seven Muslims were beaten up by a mob in West Champaran because of rumours that they had eaten beef. 

In December 2020, a man was lynched on the outskirts of Patna for the same reason. The same year, two persons in Jamui and one cattle trader were killed over the same suspicion.

A JD(U) MLA who didn’t wish to be named said the killing of Khalil is likely to prove a major challenge for Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. “How can the Muslims trust us when even a party worker is not safe?” said the MLA. 

Opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) national vice-president Shivanand Tiwari said the brutal murder is a reflection of “growing hatred unleashed by Hindutva organisations”. “Nitish can do nothing to stop it,” he said. 

(Edited by Saikat Niyogi) 


Also read: How India managed to punish cow vigilantes for the first time in a beef-lynching case


 

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