Under the current ruling party, ‘cow’ has been taken as a strong political symbol. Several cases of people being thrashed or killed have come to light in the name of cow protection. As a matter of fact, Muslims have always been a target of so-called gau-rakhshaks (cow vigilantes).
In a recent case, a 32 years old Muslim man, Mohammed Shakir, was thrashed in the broad daylight by a group of gau-rakhshaks. The incident took place in the Moradabad district of Uttar Pradesh on May 23.
Shakir is a butcher and is in the business of transporting and selling meat. The incident took place when Shakir was transporting meat and a group of five to six people led by Manoj Thakur attacked him. They tied him to a tree and beat him up brutally. Shakir feared that he was going to be killed. Manoj claims to be the vice president of the Bharatiya Gauraksha Vahini.
In a report by The Quint, Rakesh Singh Parihar, the president of Bharatiya Gauraksha Vahini was quoted as saying, “Manoj Thakur was thrown out of the Bharatiya Gauraksha Vahini six months ago for engaging in problematic activities. There were several allegations against him of taking money from people. Our local Sangh representatives in Moradabad also told us about this. It seems like now we will have to put out a separate press release saying he is not in the party to avoid further confusion. We keep telling him but he does not listen.”
Manoj Thakur is currently on the run and has not yet been arrested.
An FIR has been registered against Manoj and the members of his group who attacked Shakir. The FIR has been registered under section 147 (rioting), 148 (armed with a deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 389 (extortion), 386 (extortion by putting a person in fear of death), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
However, the police have also filed a case against Shakir under IPC sections relating to ‘mischief by killing an animal’, ‘committing an act likely to spread infection’, and ‘violation of COVID lockdown guidelines’.
In an interview with The Quint, Shakir said: “I kept screaming ‘It is buffalo’s meat, it is buffalo’s meat!’ but no one listened to me. They kept saying I have slaughtered a cow. I tried to say that I did the job of selling buffalo meat, but they were not listening.”
Shakir also said that the men kept demanding Rs 50,000 from him.
“They thrashed me hard on my ear. They said I should call home and quickly arrange for Rs 50,000 to pay them and then they will let me go. Thakur also said that I would have to pay him another additional Rs 25,000 every month to keep doing my job. He threatened and said that if I do not pay up they will keep accusing me in cases of cow slaughter. They said I dare share any of this with the police,” he said.
Shakir has been receiving several threats to take the case back. He is currently living in fear at home and is recovering from his injuries. He expects the government of Yogi Adityanath to ensure his safety from any further attacks.
This incident occurred a day after a UP Muslim boy, Mohammad Faisal, was arrested for selling vegetables during the COVID-19 restrictions. He died at the police station after being brutally beaten up by the cops.