Three persons were arrested on Monday in connection with Sunday’s lynching of two Muslim men on suspicion that they were cow thieves near Dhupguri in Jalpaiguri district. Police said that according to the preliminary investigation, Hafizul Sheikh and Anwar Hussain were cow traders. They were killed in the wee hours of Sunday when they were travelling in a van carrying seven cows. While Sheikh was from Dhubri, Assam, Anwar Hussain was a resident of Patlahawa in Cooch Behar district.
On Monday, police detained eight persons. However, villagers from Barohalia, where the lynching happened, and its adjoining villages, protested outside Dhupguri police station, claiming those detained were innocent. Later, five persons were released, three were arrested. They were identified as Dilip Mondol, Samiur Rehman and Monohar Sarkar — all residents of Barohalia.
They were produced in court and remanded in police custody. “Our initial investigation revealed that the victims were cow traders, who bought the cattle from a local market on August 26. The cows were kept in the house of their acquaintances. Early August 27, they left for Tufangunj in Cooch Behar. Instead of the highway, they took the village road, where locals stopped them. When they tried to flee, they were lynched,” said a police officer in Jalpaiguri.
The police said the incident took place around 3 am in Barohalia village, about 15 km from Dhupguri town. The area is near the India-Bangladesh border and, according to locals, plagued by incidents of cow theft.