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The Alwar police had claimed on Sunday that prima facie, no shots were fired in the assault early on Friday by suspected cow vigilantes, in which one person, Ummar, 42, was killed. They had alleged that the three men — Ummar, Tahir and Javed — who were attacked while transporting some cows and calves in Govindgarh area were cattle smugglers. But Ummar’s neighbours in Ghatmika, in Bharatpur, say that they are a village of dairy farmers. And Tahir says he was shot, and has kept the bullet which was extracted from his left arm.
“We left our homes on Thursday afternoon to buy some cows. Ummar and I bought five cows in Dausa, and, along with Javed, we left for home on Thursday night,” Tahir, 45, told The Indian Express. “Just before dawn on Friday, we were passing through a village in Govindgarh… Towards the end of the village, six-seven men, who were hiding behind a house, fired at us,” he said.
“Tahir shouted out in panic… But the men didn’t approach us and continued to fire. So I opened the door and ran into the bushes. They chased me, but I managed to escape in the dark,” said Javed, in his twenties, who was driving the pick-up truck. Ummar, however, wasn’t so lucky.
“I was in the middle seat, with Ummar to my left. He opened the door but collapsed on the spot. I managed to run, but a bullet hit my left arm,” said Tahir, showing the bullet which was later retrieved by a doctor. “Then they hit the back of my head with the butt of their gun, and I fell. A man started twisting my right leg, but another man told him, ‘Rakesh, yeh (Ummar) toh mar gaya hai, yeh (Tahir) bhi mar jayega’ (one is already dead, and this one will die too). I fainted after that,” he said.
Tahir said he regained consciousness after about an hour. “I did not look back and kept running. I spotted a man on a motorcycle and told him that I was injured. That man dropped me off near my village, after which my family took me to a hospital in Ferozepur Jhirka in Haryana,” he said.
By this time, Javed too had reached their village, about 40 km from the spot where they were attacked, and recounted what had happened.
Three days after the attack, both Tahir and Javed are yet to return to their homes — they did not want to disclose their location.
Back in Ghatmika village, Ummar’s wife, Khurshidan, who is pregnant with her ninth child — the youngest, Aaliya, is a year old, and oldest, Maqsood, is about 18 years — has been berating herself for asking him to get a cow.
“We wanted to get a cow to provide doodh-ghee for our children,” she said. “He left on Thursday with Rs 15,000. I had told him that if we had a cow, we could give some milk to the children and sell the rest, like the other families in the village. We don’t have enough money to buy buffaloes… we had never bought a cow before,” she said .
“When he didn’t return by Friday morning, I started inquiring. Everyone kept telling me that he would return soon, but he never did,” she said.
Ummar’s family later came to know that the Alwar police had found a mutilated body by the railway tracks — about 15 km from the pick-up truck carrying some cows and calves which was found deserted on Friday morning — and identified him on Saturday evening.
Ummar and his three brothers, Shoukeen, Khurshid, and Azad, jointly own about 1.5 bighas of land. Shoukeen, 25, said Ummar only had three goats. “He used to work as a labourer some days, or in the fields,” he said.
“We want justice, how can they kill my son like this,” said Ummar’s father, Shahabuddin.
The village sarpanch, Shoukat, said Ghatmika is a village of dairy farmers. “Almost each of the 300 houses in the village has cows or buffaloes… they sell the milk, that’s how we survive,” he said.
Rashid, a villager, said he collects and sells about 300 litres of milk daily. “There are 11 of us across the village… we collect milk from each home,” he said. “I sell about 200 litres of milk in the nearby towns every day,” said Jaikam, a villager. “On good days, I may sell about 250 litres,” he said.
Meanwhile, Alwar Superintendent of Police Rahul Prakash said two persons have been detained so far. “We are questioning Bhagwan Gujjar and Ramveer for the assault. The motive isn’t clear yet,” he said.
He claimed that both Ummar and Tahir had cases against them. “So far, we have found 5-6 cases against Tahir, including abduction, and he had been absconding for some time. Ummar too had been absconding since 2012 in a case under the RB Act (Rajasthan Bovine Animal [Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export] Act). We have written to the Bharatpur and Haryana police to see if there were more cases against them,” he said.
While Ummar’s body has been sent to Jaipur, the post-mortem is yet to be done. Ummar’s family claimed to have photographs which purportedly show a bullet mark on his back. “The family isn’t clear about what they want, so we haven’t been able to proceed with the post-mortem yet,” said SMS hospital superintendent D S Meena.