TWO MEN were lynched early on Sunday by villagers near Dhupguri in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district, on suspicion that they were cow thieves, said police. The victims, who were travelling in a van carrying seven cows, have been identified as Hafizul Sheikh from Dhubri in Assam and Anwar Hussain of Patlahawa in West Bengal’s Coochbehar district, said police.
“The bodies have been sent for post mortem and we have started an investigation,” said a senior police officer of Jalpaiguri district. No arrests have been made so far. The incident comes two months after three men were beaten to death in Chopra, North Dinajpur, on similar allegations. According to police sources in Jalpaiguri, the incident took place at around 3 am in Barohalia village, about 15 km from Dhupguri town. The area is near the India-Bangladesh border and, according to local residents, plagued by incidents of cow theft.
Police sources said the victims and a driver, identified as Nazrul Islam alias Rahul, were travelling in a pick-up van with the cattle when they were stopped. They managed to escape once, with the driver speeding away. But then, said sources, the driver lost his way and the vehicle was intercepted again inside the village.
Villagers questioned the two victims for some time before lynching them, said police sources, adding that the driver managed to flee. The villagers also damaged the vehicle and tried to set it on fire. Later, police rescued the injured and rushed them to a Dhupguri hospital where they were declared brought dead.
Police said they were investigating whether the victims were cow thieves or traders who bought the cattle from a market in the area.