As officials and villagers suspected the involvement of a cow vigilante group operating in Khunti district a day after a man was lynched and two others injured by a mob that accused them of slaughtering a cow, Faagu Kachhap, injured in the assault, said Monday that he did not know the other two men attacked.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Kachhap claimed to be working in his field in Suari village when a mob “suddenly” attacked him, tied his hands and accused him of “slaughtering” a cow.
On Sunday, three men in Suari village, Kalantus Barla, Philip Horo and Kachhap, were attacked by a mob that alleged they were carving an animal prohibited from being slaughtered. While Barla died on the way to hospital, Horo and Kachhap are recovering.
Kachhap, who has injuries on his back, leg and hand, said the mob continued to beat him for half an hour for “committing no crime”. He went to work on his field at around 7.30 am. “Suddenly, a lot of people came and started assaulting me. They said I had slaughtered a cow. I said I had done nothing of that sort, but they tied my hands and beat me up for half an hour,” he said.
Kachhap said “he had no idea” who killed the cow and until Monday morning he could not even contact his family. “I was being beaten when the
police came and I was rushed to the hospital. I managed to contact my family from the hospital Monday morning.I had just gone out for work,” said Kachhap, who now has a policeman standing guard next to him.
According to a senior official, the role of a cow protection vigilante group is also being probed for its involvement in the violence. Four men are accused of murder, attempt to murder and rioting in the FIR along with 15-18 unnamed men. SP Rural (Ranchi) Ashutosh Shekhar, who is also overseeing the investigation in Khunti, said: “We are conducting raids. Let them get arrested.”
The role of a vigilante group is also being discussed in the villages of Jaltanda and Suari. On Monday afternoon, a few residents of Jaltanda village-a few kilometres from Suari-protested against members of their family being detained by police.
Rupan and Sukarpna Devi were among those protesting at Jaltanda village and claimed their sons and husbands were being picked up by the police. Rupan Devi said, “This was the work of some cow protection vigilante group and they were not from here. Why has the police then picked up our people? We have got nothing to do with the violence,” she said.
Her opinion was seconded by some around her, who also claimed that the group has been active in the area for “some time”. Jharkhand ADG (operations) M L Meena said: “Until now, there has been no link of the accused to any organisation.” In a press release, police said: “Reportedly, prohibited meat was sold after which some anti-social elements beat up the villagers.” The release stated that after police were told of the incident, they acted “promptly”.
Doctor Anshuman Sharma at the Karra block Community Health Centre said that all three persons assaulted were brought to the hospital at 11 am. “Horo and Kachhap were injured but Barla had suffered grievous injuries and his pulse and BP was deteriorating. We referred him to the district hospital. He must have suffered internal injuries as we heard that he died later.”
At Suari village, Gabriel Horo, a tribal Christian said that Sunday morning most villagers had gone to Church. “Nobody saw anything, and we only have accounts of children coming from school who had gathered at the spot. What we hear is that a cow was being slaughtered and somebody gave a tip-off to the cow vigilante group who came and started beating anyone.”
Monika Kandulna, a relative of Philip Horo who was injured in the mob attack, said that Horo had gone to the river to bathe when the incident occurred. “He was needlessly beaten. Only Kalantus Barla could say who all was involved, but he is no more,” she said.