The two men whose bodies were found in a burnt SUV in Haryana’s Bhiwani, were driven around for 20 hours before they were killed, sources have told NDTV. It is possible that one of the two groups of cow vigilantes involved had murdered them. Junaid and Nasir, residents of Rajasthan’s Bharatpur, were kidnapped on February 15. Their bodies were found two days later.
There were allegations that Junaid was involved in cattle smuggling. Five cases were registered against him, said the police in Haryana.
Sources said two separate groups of cow vigilantes are involved in the murder. The first group abducted and beat Junaid and Nasir and took them to the Haryana police, demanding that they be arrested. But the police refused, seeing the men were badly injured.
Thereafter, the second group took charge of them. For the next 20 hours, they drove through four districts of Haryana, travelling a distance of 200 km. Sources said they were the ones who probably murdered the men and were looking for a place to dispose of the bodies. They finally drove to Bhiwani via Jind and Jhajjar. On the night of February 16, they put the bodies in the Bolero car, doused everything in petrol and set fire to it.
The families of the dead men have alleged the involvement of the right-wing group Bajrang Dal. While the First Information Report filed by the Rajasthan Police names nine men, only one of them, a taxi driver, has been arrested.
In a statement, the Rajasthan Police said Rinku Saini, 32, is a resident of Firozpur Jhirka in Haryana’s Nuh district. He was arrested on basis of questioning and other evidence. He was involved with a cow vigilante group, the police said.
Another man named in the FIR is Mohit Yadav alias Monu Manesar, a member of the Bajrang Dal in Bhiwani. Members of the Bajrang Dal have held protests against the registration of the case against the man, who is currently on the run. A village council has declared that he cannot be arrested without proof and warned that any police team visiting their home without permission “will not go back alive”.
Monu Manesar is also one of the three men in the FIR who worked as informers of Haryana Police to crack down on cattle smuggling. The others are Rinku Saini and Lokesh Singhla. They used to accompany Haryana Police teams during raids on cattle smugglers, FIRs filed in other cases have revealed.
The case has become a flashpoint between the police of two states, after the family of Srikant Pandit, one of the men named in the FIR, claimed that the Rajasthan police, during a raid to their home, had kicked their pregnant daughter-in-law and cause a miscarriage.
A case has been registered against around 45 personnel of the Rajasthan police. The baby’s body has been sent for postmortem. The Rajasthan Police have denied the allegations.