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Maharashtra: Cow vigilantes chase trucks carrying cattle, let off; police say probe on

The incident in question took place on August 21, when one Shrinivas Dhyavartiwar (32) and his group allegedly chased two trucks carrying bullocks and tried to intercept it without informing the police.

Written by Vivek Deshpande | Nagpur |
August 29, 2016 2:06:20 am

A case has come to light in Chandrapur district where the police are learnt to have let off a group of people in a matter of cow vigilantism even though their involvement is apparent.

The incident in question took place on August 21, when one Shrinivas Dhyavartiwar (32) and his group allegedly chased two trucks carrying bullocks and tried to intercept it without informing the police.

Dhyavartiwar reportedly has strong political connections and claims he was recently made a member of the “Hindi Advisory Committee” of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs “on the recommendation of Maharashtra Home Minister Ram Shinde”.

According to reports, the group of ten members, seven of them travelling from Patanbori (Yavatmal district) in a Bolero (MH29/AD8881), and three, including Dhyavartiwar, from Nagpur in a Mercedes (MH43/V1754), started chasing the two trucks (MH40/Y4734, MH31/AP1891) from Jam in Wardha district on the Nagpur-Chandrapur road past August 21 midnight. Instead of informing the police, the group continued to chase the trucks till Warora, about 45 km from Jam.

There, they informed Sub-Inspector Sharad Meshram of Anandvan police post. Meshram then reportedly joined the group that had overtaken the two trucks ahead of Anandvan. The group and the PSI reached a toll booth near Nandori, a few km from Warora. As the trucks realised they had trouble ahead, they first stopped about 200 metres before the booth but later sped away breaking the toll barriers. The vigilantes had by then allegedly started throwing stones and hitting the trucks with batons.

The group continued the chase, with Meshram informing the next police station at Bhadravati. Soon, the Bolero met with an accident, injuring some of the occupants. The trucks had managed to move ahead. Alerted by the drivers, owner Bhagwant Singh had started for the spot in his car (MH49/U1554) along with cattle traders Jipu and Imran Qureshi to rescue his trucks.

Singh allegedly spotted the Bolero by the roadside and allegedly fired at it. Finally, the police stopped one of the trucks at Padoli near Chandrapur while the other one managed to give them a slip.

The police took the injured to hospital and let them off after treatment, registering no offence for taking law into their hands. Offences were, however, registered against the transporter and the cattle traders on the complaint of Dhyavartiwar, followed by their arrests.

Police sources named the group members as Madhukar Allurwar (32), Gaurav Dhande (25), Naresh Gyadarwar (20), Vishal Nagrale (20) and Pramod Vakil (38), all from Patanbori in Yavatmal district, Nikhil Karlawar from Mandvi in Zari tahsil of Yavatmal and Rupesh Ingle (28) and Ravi Shukla (23), both from Nagpur.

The toll booth staff, however, registered an offence against unidentified persons with the Warora police for causing damage to the property. “We will have to check the CCTV footage at the toll booth to establish their identity,” said Inspector Narendra Kosurkar.

Chandrapur Superintendent of Police Sandip Diwan confirmed that no case was registered against the cow vigilantes, but he gave no reason for it. He said a probe was on.

The Indian Express has learnt that the group has been involved in cow vigilantism in the Pandharkawda-Patanbori belt of Yavatmal district for some time now. Some of its members claim to be from an organisation called Hindu Ram Sena. While there were reports that others claim to be working for Bajrang Dal, leader of the party’s Yavatmal unit Ajay Nildawar denied this. He, however, said: “Some disgruntled members of Bajrang Dal did leave the organisation to join some cow vigilante organisation for considerations other than cow protection per se.”

According to reports, a policeman, Sandip Muppidwar, was also involved in the episode, as he joined the group at Bhadravati.

Superintendent of Police Akhilesh Singh had reportedly transferred Muppidwar from Pandharkawda police station, where he was posted, to Yavatmal for alleged involvement in cow vigilantism for extortion. He has been off duty since April 12 on “medical grounds” and is also facing internal probe.

Singh confirmed the “suspicious activities” of Muppidwar.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Dhyavartiwar, a property dealer who runs Arihant Mega Structures, boasted of his “connections”. “Ask Akhilesh Singh about me. I have worked with him to catch hold of illegal cattle transporters,” he said.

Singh said Dhyavartiwar the police did act on his inputs on illegal cattle transport. “I don’t know about his other activities but you would appreciate that we must act on inputs even if they come from criminals. About the names in Chandrapur case, all I can say is they are freelancers having their own interests. Of them, Allurwar and Vakil have been previously booked for gambling and stopping cattle trucks along the highway by staging rasta roko. An offence under Section 188 of IPC is registered against Shrinivas at Patan police station for a similar activity,” he added.

Singh said the presence of Muppidwar in the Chandrapur episode “certainly makes it all very serious”. “Muppidwar is facing inquiry and I will be sending report about the suspects in the case to the Chandrapur SP,” he said.

Dhyavartiwar admitted that his group chased the two trucks on their own. “When they started speeding, we called the Anandvan police. Meshram joined us to stop the trucks at Nandori toll booth.”

Asked why they threw stones and hit the trucks with batons, he said, “We had to do that for self-protection as they were rushing at us.”

Meshram, however, said the trucks had passed the booth before he reached there.

Bhadravati Police Inspector Vilas Nikam said, “The group had no business to chase the trucks on its own. They didn’t inform any of the three police stations — Nagpur, Wardha and Chandrapur — about the trucks, which we could have apprehended since it is our job.”

He added, “What we have gathered about the group is that they are people with suspect identities and we have sought report from the Yavatmal police on it. They are known to be doing these kind of activities on NH7 (Pandharkawda-Patanbori stretch), forcing the truckers to change the route to Adilabad via Chandrapur.”

Dhyavartiwar, on the other hand, alleged that cattle traders regularly gave ‘hafta’ to the police.

Asked about the presence of Muppidwar in the group, Dhyavartiwar said, “He reached the Bhadravati accident spot afterwards.” He admitted that he knew Muppidwar’s past record and that he was facing an inquiry.

Asked what is going to be his role in the Hindi Advisory Committee, he said, “I am not aware yet. The first meeting is yet to happen.” While Dhyavartiwar said he had applied for the job “with a recommendation letter from State Home Minister Ram Shinde”, the latter wasn’t available for comment despite repeated calls and text messages.

Inspector General of Police (Nagpur Range) Ravindra Kadam said, “An offence has been registered at Warora police station. As the probe progresses, on confirming their culpability in vigilantism, we can always add more sections and act against them.”

Finance Minister Mungantiwar, who also hails from Chandrapur, said, “When Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said such people must be acted against, there is no question of sparing anyone. As far as I know, an offence has been registered against them.”

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