Around 50 cow vigilantes on Sunday targeted officials of the Tamil Nadu government transporting cows purchased under a Central scheme to protect bovines. The vigilantes intercepted five trucks carrying the cows from Jaisalmer to Tamil Nadu, pelted stones at a truck, blocked National Highway 15 and even attempted to set fire to the vehicles near Rajasthan’s Barmer district, police said.
Four persons have been arrested and action against seven policemen including a police inspector has been taken for allegedly not taking the matter seriously and reaching the spot late last night, a senior police official said.
The officials of the Animal Husbandry Department of Tamil Nadu government had purchased 50 cows and calves from Jaisalmer under the Rashtriya Gokul Mission, programme by the BJP-led Centre, and were transporting them in five trucks with NOC and all required papers and permission from authorities and police when the cow vigilantes attacked them.
The programme by the Union Ministry of Agriculture funds purchase of cows by governments for breeding with local cattle. Tamil Nadu government had spent Rs 25 lakh for the 50 bovines that were being transported, police officials said. The Tamil Nadu government hired the lorries for Rs 1.25 lakh each and had given drivers Rs 60,000 up front, an officer was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
"The accused tried to beat the officials.They also tried to set a truck on fire but police reached the spot and prevented them. The officials, drives and cleaners were rescued and taken to local police station.
"In the meanwhile, several people gathered there and blocked National Highway 15," SP, Barmer, Gagandeep Singla told PTI.
The officials had purchased the cows of a good quality breed from different places in Jaisalmer. They had NOC and permission from the SDM and local police station to transport the cows.
"The accused pelted stones at trucks and damaged one truck. The cows were rescued and taken to a local cow shelter for the time being," he said.
A case against 50 persons has been registered for voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from duty and for assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty and also under the National Highway Act.
Chainaram, Kamlesh, Vikram and Jaswant have been arrested in the matter.
"The officials informed the police station immediately and sought help but the policemen reached late. On this dereliction, the SHO of Sadar Police Station and six other policemen were shunted to police lines today," he said.
SHO Jairam, Sub Inspector Dhruv Prasad, Assistant Sub Inspector Majid and two head constables and as many head constables were shunted to police lines, the SP said.
Rajasthan is one of the BJP-ruled states where vigilante groups have been given a free run and often attack cow tarnsporters. Claiming to be working for the protection of cows, these groups have attacked innocent people carrying cattle, often accusing that the animals were being taken for slaughter. On April 1, Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer from Haryana's Mewat, was brutally assaulted by vigilantes, and died two days later.
CPI Tamil Nadu unit strongly condemned the attack on State government officials, and sought stern action against them.
CPI Tamil Nadu unit secretary R Mutharasan urged the state government to exert pressure on the Centre and Rajasthan government to ensure legal action was taken against the vigilantes, who attacked the officials.
"The CPI State Committee strongly condemns this attack," Mutharasan said in a statement here.
Calling for legal action against those involved in the attack, he said the Tamil Nadu government should exert pressure on the Centre and Rajasthan in this regard.
The CPI(M) also attacked the BJP saying the ruling party's "divisive" politics is detrimental to the country's social fabric.
"BJP's divisive politics, the environment of hate fostered by it and no governance, spells hell for our social fabric (sic)," CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said on Twitter.