New Delhi: Two men alleged to have been kidnapped and killed by cow vigilantes in Bhiwani last week were tortured for several hours to extract information on the sources of cattle and their trafficking operations, Rajasthan Police sources familiar with the ongoing investigation have told ThePrint.
The severely injured men were then taken to Ferozepur-Jhirka police station in Haryana by the vigilantes, the sources said, but turned away by police officers who feared the duo — Junaid and Nasir — could die in custody.
Haryana Director General of Police P.K. Agarwal did not respond to queries from ThePrint seeking comment.
Bharatpur Inspector General of Police (IGP) Gaurav Srivastava told ThePrint that “eight people have been clearly identified, their presence at the scene of the crime has been corroborated”.
“In total we suspect that there are 12 people involved in the case, their involvement is being verified. We are verifying Monu Manesar’s involvement in the matter,” Srivastava said.
Manesar, also known as Mohit Yadav, has been booked in the matter but denies involvement. A Bajrang Dal leader from the Manesar area of Haryana, Yadav has been a prominent figure in violent cow vigilante groups operating in the region.
According to Rajasthan Police sources, the two groups assaulted the duo with clubs and batons.
Rajasthan Police sources said the cow vigilantes then took the two Muslim men to the Ferozepur-Jhirka police station and sought the registration of an FIR against them on charges of cattle smuggling. A Rajasthan Police officer involved in investigating the Junaid-Nasir case said “the Haryana Police asked the vigilantes to take away the two men after seeing their condition”.
“One of the groups then took the men to Bhiwani and burnt them. It is not yet clear if they were already dead by the time they were burnt.” Only parts of the skeleton were recovered from the car in Bhiwani.
Both residents of Ghatmika village in Rajasthan’s Bharatpur, Junaid and Nasir left home in a Bolero on the night of 14 February without informing their family members about their plans, said police sources. A case of abduction was then registered at Gopalgarh police station against five men including Manesar on a complaint by Junaid’s kin.
The skeletal remains of the two men were eventually recovered on 16 February.
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‘No cows, vehicles found’
Sources in the Rajasthan Police also said that Junaid and Nasir were stopped at the junction of three districts — Rajasthan’s Bharatpur and Alwar, and Haryana’s Ferozepur Jhirka — and questioned by cow vigilantes. Of the five men initially named in the FIR, only Rinku Saini from Ferozepur Jhirka has been arrested by the police.
Another senior officer of the Rajasthan Police said Saini, during his interrogation, told investigators that the “gau rakshaks had received information about cows being ferried along the route and that Junaid and Nasir were leading another vehicle with the cows”.
“Two groups of cow vigilantes beat them (Junaid and Nasir) up and one of them was from outside the Mewat region. One of them then disposed of the bodies in Bhiwani. Saini claims he didn’t accompany the men to Bhiwani. Evidence gathered so far corroborates his claims,” the officer added.
Although Junaid had five cases of cow smuggling registered against him, IG Srivastava said the police are yet to encounter any evidence to corroborate the accused’s claim that the two deceased were smuggling cattle that night. “No cows, or vehicles have been found. The cow vigilante groups also didn’t give any information to the police,” he said.
Senior police officers from Rajasthan acknowledged that it is not uncommon for gau rakshaks to alert local police about the movement of cow smugglers in the area, but maintain that no such information was shared with authorities that night.
“We receive information from different sources, people about crimes. However, it is not preferable to involve citizens in raids,” said IG Srivastava.
(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)
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