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When Mohammad Sharif, who owns a meat shop in the Old Faridabad market, sent his 14-year-old son to purchase goods from Fatehpur Taga on Friday morning, little did he imagine that the next time he would see his son would be in a hospital bed. While the boy was on his way home in an autorickshaw driven by Azad (27), the vehicle was waylaid by six men in a Swift Dzire. They alleged that the meat the boy was carrying belonged to a cow. The duo were forced to drive to a cremation ground in Faridabad, where they were assaulted by a group of 15-20 men. Three relatives of Azad, who rushed to their aid, were assaulted as well.
While arrests are yet to be made, police said cross FIRs were registered in the incident. Police added that the meat was tested and was found to belong to a buffalo. Astha Modi, DCP (NIT), said: “A case had been registered alleging that the men were carrying cow meat, under the Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan Act and Gausamvardhan Act. However, a sample was sent for testing, and the veterinary doctor’s report states that the meat belongs to a buffalo.”
Confirming this, Haryana DGP B S Sandhu said, “Even if it was cow meat, the attackers had no right to assault the youths. They should have informed local police. We won’t allow such ‘gundagardi’. Strict action will be taken against those found violating the law. We have already issued instructions to officers across the state in this connection.” Police have lodged an FIR against the attackers under IPC sections 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 323 (assault), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 506 (criminal intimidation). “Based on a video of the incident, seven accused have been identified. We have formed three teams to round them up,” DCP Modi said.
According to Azad — who is recuperating at the Civil Hospital in Faridabad — the men confronted them around 7 am near Bajri village and inquired about the meat they were carrying. “When we told them it was buffalo meat, they said they suspected it belonged to a cow. We said we were willing to get the meat tested and could approach police to resolve the matter.”
Under this pretext, Azad said two of the men boarded his auto while the others followed in their car. However, he said they forced him to drive to a cremation ground nearby. They were joined by several others, who arrived on motorcycles and were armed with lathis, rods, and chains. For the next five hours, Azad claimed that “15-20 men beat them with lathis and iron rods, strangled them with chains and cables, and ran over them with motorcycles three or four times”.
“They kept forcing us to say ‘Gau Mata Ki Jai’ and ‘Jai Hanuman’. At one point, my phone rang, and the boy managed to answer the call. It was my brother. The boy alerted him, and he rushed to the spot along with two others. But they were assaulted as well,” Azad alleged. The ordeal of the five men finally ended around noon, when the Station House Officer (SHO) of Mujesar police station arrived at the scene. “They were getting ready to burn us to death; they had already thrown petrol on my face,” Azad alleged.
Responding to allegations of the victims that the accused had claimed they were members of the Bajrang Dal, DCP Modi said, “We have not procured any evidence so far that the attack was premeditated, or that those involved knew each other. After they are arrested, we will question them and go through their call records.”