June 23, 2021 2:30:24 am
“They were all drunk, with lathis in hand. We tried explaining that the buffaloes were meant for field work but they didn’t listen and kept hitting us until the police arrived, two hours later,” said Pintu Bheel (21), as he tried to recall the night of June 13.
Pintu, along with his companion Babu Bheel (25), was assaulted after their pick-up truck with bovines was stopped by suspected cow vigilantes on the way from Rajasthan to neighboring Jhabua of Madhya Pradesh.
While Pintu received minor injuries, Babu was brought dead to the Begun Community Health Centre. A labourer, he is now survived by his wife and two children.
Babu, who worked as a labourer in Rajasthan, had loaned about Rs 40,000 to buy two buffaloes to work for his patch of land in Jhabua. He hired a pick-up truck on which Pintu was assigned as a driver for a daily sum of Rs 300. The two reached Rayta village in Chittorgarh on Friday to purchase the bovines and left with the animals on Sunday afternoon. During the visit, Pintu also managed to meet his father and uncle in Chittorgarh — both work there as labourers. His uncle Hur Singh Maliwar, however, wanted to return to Jhabua before the rains with his family of five and decided to travel with Pintu.
“It was less than two kilometers from Rayta and about 15 minutes into the journey that five men on two bikes began following us. A few other men blocked the roads using barricades at the next chowk, compelling us to stop,” recalled Maliwar. The men began assaulting Pintu and Babu and Maliwar was spared as “the women assured them that they were just hitching a ride”. But the group of six stood there, watching the assault, outnumbered by the men. Maliwar then called his employer, on whose fields he worked as a labourer, and around 11 pm the police reached the spot.
But Babu was dead.
According to Bagirath Maida, Babu’s brother-in-law, the family after losing their animals and their breadwinner, have once again loaned Rs 5,000 to purchase seeds of maize and cotton to cultivate their land. “Our world was snatched away from us but we don’t have any other option but to find some way for survival,” said Bagirath.
Pintu, who has been working in Rajasthan for a long time, said that he has been travelling to the state “for all my life but never encountered something like this”. “These men should be punished. They have taken a life.”
Preliminary investigation by the police suggested the accused were cow vigilantes. An FIR has been registered under IPC provisions relating to murder and attempt to murder, among others.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.