A mob led by a priest tonsured two Dalit youths, beat them up and paraded them with placards saying ‘cow thieves’ in Ballia early on Monday when they allegedly caught the duo “stealing stray calves” near a local temple.
Police said Uma (22) and Sonu (22), who are farmers from neighbouring villages, were arrested for cow theft, while another person was held on charges of assault.
The duo were assaulted by the mob on Ghazipur road in Rasra town when a priest of a nearby temple spotted them with two calves and raised an alarm. “At around 5 am, the two youths were walking the calves on the Ghazipur road. A priest from Nath Baba Mathiya temple spotted them, following which locals gathered and beat up the duo,” said Circle Officer (CO), Rasra, Avadhesh Kumar Chaudhary.
The youths were then tonsured, their heads and faces smeared with white paste and placards carrying the words “Gai Chor” (cow thieves) hung around their necks before being paraded in the area till police reached the spot. The mob then handed over the duo to the cops.
“The two youths admitted to stealing the calves and we have arrested them for cow theft. We have also registered a cross FIR against 15 persons on charges of assault and under sections of the SC/ST Act because the two youths are Dalits. We have arrested one Shambhu Malla. The rest are yet to be identified and footage and photos are being examined,” Chaudhary said.
The CO said, “The calves did not belong to anyone. They were stray. But it became a case of theft because the animals were picked up from near the temple premises. Why the youths stole the calves needs to be probed.”
SP (Ballia) Anil Kumar said, “Everything has been taken care of and a case under the SC/ST Act has been registered. We are probing the matter.”