New Delhi: On May 22, a day before the election results brought the BJP back to power for a second term at the Centre, three Muslim youth, including a woman, were beaten by gau rakshaks over rumours of carrying beef in Seoni, Madhya Pradesh.
Eight people have been arrested – including the three victims of the violence. Police told PTI that the three “were arrested on May 22 as possession, transportation or sale of beef is illegal in Madhya Pradesh”. They have been booked under the Madhya Pradesh Govansh Vadh Pratishedh Adhiniyam, and were produced before a local court on May 23 which sent them to judicial custody.
Seoni lies 350 km away from Bhopal, where terror-accused Pragya Thakur just won the parliamentary election for the BJP.
According to reports, the three were travelling in an auto rickshaw when it was stopped by five people. In videos recorded by eyewitnesses, the men were pulled out and beaten with sticks over the suspicion of carrying beef. The men were held against a tree and thrashed brutally. As one of the men, in a blue shirt, tried to pull away and fell on the ground, the group continued to hit him on his legs and his back.
The five cow vigilantes then forced the same man to hit the woman with them on the head repeatedly with his slipper. While the man was following that directive, as can be seen in the video, the perpetrators of the attack can be heard ordering him to say ‘Jai Shri Ram’, which he does.
Despite a growing crowd of onlookers, NDTV reported that no one called the police.
“The video is four days old and four people have been arrested. They have been sent to jail by a local court. One more accused has been arrested. He will appear in court today,” local police officer Lalit Shakyavar told NDTV on Saturday. The accused have been booked under sections 341 (wrongful restraint), 294 (obscene act), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), and 34 (act done by several persons with common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and under Arms Act.
According to ANI, the police named Ram Sena leader Shubham Baghel as one of the accused. G.S. Uikey, a local police official told ANI that Baghel has been book previously for his involvement in similar cases, reportedly along with his henchmen.
NDTV reported that Baghel had reportedly uploaded a video of the incident on his Facebook account on May 23, but deleted it later.