Haryana Police chief KP Singh has dismissed claims that the men accused of murdering two members of a family and gangraping two others in Mewat district on August 25 are cow vigilantes, The Times of India reported. This came after one of the survivors of the attack alleged that the men accused her family of consuming beef before killing her uncle and aunt and gangraping her and her sister.

Singh said the survivors and other family members had “recorded their statements” and had also given statements in the presence of a magistrate. “At no stage, did the victims speak about gau rakshaks,” he added. The father of the farmer killed said the family wanted justice in the matter, Firstpost reported. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has also written to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, seeking his intervention in the matter.

The incident took place when the family was asleep – the women inside a room and the men on a cot outside. One of the survivors said in her police complaint that the attackers tied the men to the cots and beat everybody with rods and sticks. She said, “The four-five men were all armed with country-made pistols.” The gang fled around 3 am when one of the family members managed to sneak out and alert nearby residents.

There has been tension in the district after police were asked to launch a crackdown on meat shops, restaurants and roadside food stalls to ensure that they were not selling beef ahead of Bakr-Eid. The directive was issued after rumours arose that beef biryani was being sold in several parts of the Muslim-dominated district. Senior Congress leader Aftab Ahmed had called the move “totally vague and unjustified”, adding that a particular community was being targeted by the drive.