Three men who attacked a group of cattle transporters in Madhya Pradesh’s Khandwa district on Sunday, tying them up and forcing them to chant “gau mata ki jai”, were released on bail on Tuesday. But the cattle transporters, who were booked under various sections of the state’s anti-cow slaughter law, will remain in police custody at least till July 19, a police officer told Scroll.in.
The incident occurred on July 7, when a group of cow protection vigilantes allegedly stopped several men transporting cattle in trucks at Sanwalikheda village in Khandwa’s Khalwa block. The vigilantes tied up the men and forced them to their knees. In a video of the incident that Scroll.in has not independently verified, 16 men can be seen kneeling on the side of the road, tied together with a rope, holding their ears and chanting “gau mata ki jai”. According to the police, around 100 villagers then paraded the men along a two-kilometre stretch to the police station in Khalwa.
On Tuesday, Khalwa police inspector Harishankar Rawat told Scroll.in that 15 men had been booked for tying up the cow transporters and parading them to the police station. “Twelve of these men are unidentified persons,” the inspector said. “The other three were arrested but their offences are bailable so they have been granted bail.”
The three men had been booked under sections of the Indian Penal Code dealing with voluntarily causing hurt, wrongful restraint and confinement and performing obscene acts in public. According to the Indian Express, they belong to the Bajrang Dal, a right-wing Hindutva organisation.
On June 27, the Congress-led government in Madhya Pradesh cleared an amendment to the anti-cow slaughter law to punish cow vigilantes held guilty of violence with up to three years of imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 50,000. However, this amendment has not yet come into force.
Rawat confirmed that the 25 cow transporters attacked by the cow vigilantes have been arrested under the Madhya Pradesh Govansh Vadh Pratishedh Adhiniyam or the anti-cow slaughter law. “They have been booked for animal cruelty and for not having a license to transport cattle,” said Rawat.
Under the law, transportation of cattle without a bona fide licence is a non-bailable offence punishable by imprisonment for up to three years and/or a fine of Rs 5,000.
“The men will be kept in Khandwa jail till July 19, when they will be brought before the district magistrate,” the police inspector said.