Days after Nuh Police registered an FIR following viral videos of purported ‘gau rakshaks’ forcing a man into an SUV at gunpoint, cow vigilante groups held a mahapanchayat at a cow shelter in the district’s Sangel village Sunday.
The groups said they had given the call for the gathering on social media in response to statements made by politicians in Nuh suggesting that “gau rakshaks will not be allowed to enter”. They also issued an ultimatum to the state government to end cow smuggling in Nuh within a month.
“Seven demands were raised. It was decided that a district-level committee should be formed to look into the matter. The administration should confiscate property and vehicles of people accused of cow smuggling and auction them. The amount should be given to cow shelters. Fast-track courts should be set up to hear these cases. Further, arms licences for gau rakshaks should be given and FIRs against gau rakshaks should be withdrawn. If there is no action on these demands, we are ready for a ‘jail bharo’ andolan. We have started a movement and will not stop till cow slaughter is completely stopped,” said Bharat Bushan, a gau rakshak and one of the organisers.
In the days leading up to the panchayat, security had been stepped up in the district with three additional companies deployed.
Deputy Commissioner (Nuh) Ajay Kumar said organisers had sought permission for the panchayat and it was granted on Saturday afternoon. “Permission was granted subject to enforcement of certain law and order conditions. We held a meeting with the organisers and informed them that law and order has to be maintained,” he said.
Addressing the panchayat, Sohna MLA Sanjay Singh said he extended his “full support” to the gathering: “Today, I am an MLA due to blessings of gau mata and that is why I have come here. It was my duty.”
Singh added that the panchayat was held to ensure cow slaughter does not take place in Nuh: “Haryana was the first state in the country to bring a law to ban cattle slaughter. Whatever decision is taken, you have my support. I will take the memorandum of demands to the CM.”
Kulbhushan Bhardwaj, legal adviser, Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti, told the gathering that if FIRs are lodged against “gau bhakts”, then they will ensure that the current leaders are not voted to power again.
“It is being asked why people are waving weapons. I want to tell the administration that today these gau bhakts have only come to mark their attendance, but if required, we would not let these arms rust. We will fight,” he said.
Members of Bajrang Dal and VHP from across the state also attended the mahapanchayat. At the panchayat, at least three men were seen carrying guns and several were carrying swords and axes. The men claimed they had licences for the guns.
Sources said one of the conditions laid down by the administration was that no weapons are allowed. On some people carrying swords and guns at the panchayat, the DC said, “We will verify it and take action accordingly.”
On reports of some people allegedly vandalising a religious structure near the venue, the DC said, “As per a preliminary report, the structure is a Hindu pitr (shrine), dedicated to an ancestor in the village. It has been reported that some people damaged it. The situation was brought under control. No complaint has been received so far. We will look into it.”
SP (Nuh) Varun Singla added, “No complaint has been received in this regard.”