A day after a cattle-trader was beaten to death and a 65-year-old severely injured by a mob, the families of the victims alleged that the attack was due to a “cow-related matter” while police insisted that it was the fallout of a road rage incident.
Qasim (45) was beaten to death by a mob at a sugarcane field in Hapur’s Pilakhuwa and 65-year-old Samiuddin was injured in the incident. Police have arrested two men — Yudhishtir Singh and Rakesh Sisodia — on the charge of murder. According to the FIR filed at the Pilakhuwa police station, the incident was the result of a scuffle between unidentified bike-borne men and the two victims. But the family of Samiuddin and the two men arrested insisted that it was related to “cattle”.
Hapur Superintendent of Police, Sankalp Sharma told The Indian Express that the FIR was registered on the basis of a complaint by Samiuddin’s brother Yasin. “This is all the complainant has told the police. We have not recovered any motorcycle from the spot. As far as the allegations about attempted cow slaughter or cattle smuggling is concerned, we are investigating the matter,” he said.
Qasim, according to his family, had received a phone call hours before the incident at around 11 am Monday. “He was at home yesterday and he left immediately stating that he will be back by 4 pm. He took around Rs 60,000-70,000. We had asked him to not leave in a hurry and to return quickly. He used to go to neighbouring villages to procure and sell cattle and we thought that it must be regarding his business,” said Qasim’s daughter-in-law Arshi.
A few hours later, two men had hurried to Qasim’s house to inform the family that he had been rushed to the hospital after he was mercilessly assaulted around five km away. A video has also surfaced that shows Qasim lying in a field, his clothes torn and bruises across his body.
In the video, Qasim pleads for some water as a group of young men stand in the background. A voice asks people to calm down since they have already beaten the man and requests the mob to give Qasim some water. Soon after, another person is heard saying that cows were tied in the fields for slaughtering.
“They did not give him water because he was a Muslim,” says Mohammad Salim, Qasim’s younger brother as he stares at the phone screen on which the minute-long video plays.
The incident took place between 12 pm and 1 pm on Monday in the sugarcane fields that divide two villages in Pilakhuwa — Muslim dominated Madapur and Thakur-dominated Baghera Khurd. Qasim is a resident of Saddikpur, which is five km from Madapur.
“An FIR in the case against unidentified men, under IPC sections related to murder, attempt to murder and rioting, has been registered on the basis of a complaint received from injured Samiuddin’s brother,” said Hapur SP Sharma.
“As per the contents of the complaint, the FIR states that there was a scuffle over the right of way. Qasim and Samiuddin were walking from Madapur village towards Baghera Khurd when a motorcycle hit them. This led to a scuffle and the accused, who are residents of Baghera Khurd called more people to the spot. This is what the complaint said. We are investigating the matter and two people have been arrested so far. Till now, no evidence of any attempt to slaughter a cow — such as meat or any weapon — has been recovered.”
According to Sharma, Qasim’s post-mortem examination report states the cause of death as “shock and haemorrhage due to ante-mortem injuries”.
Yasin, however, tells a different story. “It happened due to a cattle issue. My brother lives in Madapur village and has no association with Qasim. He was crossing the area and he could have been trying to intervene when he was attacked. He has injuries all over his body including fractures in his leg. He was beaten up with sticks,” he said.
“He has been shifted from the ICU to the general ward today but he is not in a position to talk. He has just said one thing the matter is related to cows.” Asked why his complaint does not mention cows or cattle, Yasin said, “You know the situation.”
The allegations that the lynching was connected to cow slaughter are repeated by families of the accused and residents of Baghera Khurd. Sudhir Rana (35) claims to have sheltered two cows and a calf from Monday evening till early Tuesday morning — something locals and the families of the accused affirm.
“The police came to me around 4.30 pm and asked me to keep two cows and one calf which had been kept at the Devi temple after the incident. Before 6 am today, they took the cattle away,” Rana says.
The Devi temple, located 500 metres away from where Qasim was attacked, stands between the two villages. The temple head, Ikadishi Giri said, “The cows were left here for a couple of hours and the police took them away later. One man was dragged till the gate which leads to the temple and another was in the fields.”
A few metres from the temple, Ram Kumar, the elder brother of Yudhishtir Singh, who was arrested in the case, said, “My brother and I had reached the spot later. We ran from our houses because we were told that there was some issue regarding cow slaughter. My brother and Rakesh Sisodia had gone to the police station yesterday to file a complaint on the matter but they were arrested.”
He points to the sugarcane fields around him and added: “There is no road here where one can ride a motorcycle. This version of events is just to bury the main issue.”