Bhiwani: India is incensed over the burning bodies connected to cow vigilantes

The bodies were discovered last week inside a burned-out car

In India's Haryana state, two burned bodies found inside a burning car have sparked outrage and raised concerns about the police's handling of the investigation.

According to the police, the bodies belonged to two Muslim men from the nearby state of Rajasthan who had been reported missing.

They were allegedly murdered by right-wing Hindus who had accused them of smuggling cows, according to their relatives.

The allegations have been refuted by Bajrang Dal group leaders and police, who claim to be looking into the killings.

Locals discovered the vehicle and its two bodies in the village of Barwas in the state's Bhiwani district, according to police in Haryana, who said they started an investigation last week. .

Police initially refused to identify the victims but claimed that the burned-out SUV that the two men—later identified as Junaid and Nasir—had been traveling in before they went missing in Rajasthan was a Mahindra Bolero.

The bodies were later identified as those of Junaid and Nasir by a senior Rajasthan police official. Also identified were they by their relatives.

It is unknown why the two men were on the road. A member of the family claimed to the police that they left their homes early on Wednesday morning in the car for "personal work.".

"At around 9 am, some individuals at a store reported that 8 to 10 individuals severely beat up two men. According to the relative's police report, the attackers were later taken away in a car after being identified as Bajrang Dal members.

According to a senior Rajasthan police official quoted in The Indian Express, after receiving the complaint, the department tried tracking the victims' switched-off phones.

A Rajasthan police team accompanied the men's relatives to the scene after they learned that a burned-out Bolero car had been discovered in Haryana.

According to the official, the family members have identified a few "suspects [who] are from Haryana.".

He further stated that the alleged murder's motive was still unclear. "Nasir has never been convicted of a crime. He stated that Junaid had five prior cow smuggling cases filed against him.

Pawan Kumar, state president, VHP Haryana ( C) District President Ajit Singh, and Devendra District Minister address a press conference about the burnt Bolero car was found in Barwas village under Loharu police station area of Haryana's Bhiwani at a Hotel in civil line on February 17, 2023 in Gurugram, India.
Leaders of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad claimed during a press conference that cow vigilantes had been implicated in the case.

In several Indian states, including Rajasthan and Haryana, it is against the law to slaughter cows, which Hindus revere. Although buffaloes are exempt from the rule, Hindu vigilante groups have attacked cattle traders and sellers of buffalo meat frequently in recent years, accusing them of transporting beef. Many of these individuals are Muslims.

The men may have been attacked by cow vigilantes on the grounds that they were transporting beef, according to several media reports after the two bodies were discovered in the Bolero.

The police complaint does not mention cow smuggling, according to Ram Naresh, the case's investigating officer, who spoke to BBC Hindi.

"The dead were not discovered with any cattle. We are thoroughly investigating the case, he said.

Yes, the Rinku Saini who was mentioned in the complaint is detained and being held under arrest. According to the police, Haryana-based taxi driver Mr. Saini is a member of vigilante cow groups. His family claimed to BBC Hindi that he was just a driver and had no connection to this case.

In addition, police have stated that they are looking for the other four men listed in the complaint, including Monu Manesar, a member of the Bajrang Dal and former member of a neighborhood task force for cow protection.

On YouTube, Mr. Manesar has amassed more than 200,000 subscribers. He frequently uploads videos of himself and other people stopping alleged cow smugglers and saving cows.

Mr. Manesar posted a video online denying any involvement and asserting that he was not at the scene after the recent incident sparked outrage.

Leaders of the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, two other right-wing groups that held a press conference to claim that cow vigilantes were being "falsely framed," have also backed him.

However, relatives of the victims have been protesting and requesting that he and the other accused be taken into custody.

One of the relatives told The Hindustan Times newspaper, "Our protest will continue until Monu Manesar is arrested.".

To investigate the accusations made by Mr. Saini, the only person detained thus far, the police in Haryana have formed a committee.

The two victims were allegedly attempted to be turned over to police in Haryana's Nuh district by Mr. Saini and the other accused, according to media reports.

Despite being severely beaten, they were still alive, according to reports.

According to a report by NDTV, the Haryana police could have stepped in but chose not to, citing sources from the Rajasthan police.

An additional accusation made by a relative of the victims was that Bajrang Dal members and Haryana police were "working in coordination.".

"The claims made against us are untrue. Varun Singla, the police superintendent for the Nuh district, declared that his department had nothing to do with the fatalities and added that the committee had been formed because the accusations were "serious in nature.".

Additionally, the Rajasthan police have been accused of physically abusing the relatives of another defendant in the case; they have refuted this.

BBC Hindi's Mohar Singh Meena and Abhinav Goel contributed additional reporting.

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