The two men, detained for allegedly attacking JNU student leader Umar Khalid, claimed today that they were cow vigilantes who had come to disrupt the event that was underway at Constitution Club in Delhi to draw attention towards protection of cows, police said.
Darwesh Shahpur and Naveen Dalal were detained by police in the early hours today, they said.
During interrogation, the duo told police that they had planned to disrupt the event 'Khauff se Azaadi' (Freedom from Fear) that was being held on August 13 at Constitution Club, where activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan and Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha were present as speakers.
When Dalal reached the Constitution Club, he found Khalid outside the venue and attacked him.
The duo told police they wanted to draw attention towards the issue of cow protection and thought that targeting the event would highlight their cause, police said.
A team of Delhi Police's Special Cell had visited the village of Sikh revolutionary Kartar Singh Sarabha, where the two had said they would surrender on August 17 but they did not turn up.
In a video uploaded on Facebook on August 15, they claimed the attack on Khalid was supposed to be an "Independence Day gift" to citizens.
Police are verifying the authenticity of the video and trying to trace the IP address from where it was uploaded.
"We respect our Constitution. But there is no provision in our Constitution to punish mad dogs. By mad dogs, we mean the JNU gang that is making the country weaker and their number is increasing. Our elders in Haryana have taught us that such people should be taught a lesson," Shahpur had said in the video message.
They had also requested the police to not trouble anyone and said they would surrender in Sarabha village.
Khalid was attacked when he was on his way to take part in the event. He escaped unhurt.
On Tuesday, Delhi Police handed over the case to its Special Cell, which incidentally is already probing a sedition case against Khalid and two other JNU students.
The police had also said that they were not "intimated" about Monday's event attended by Khalid.
A police officer, privy to the probe, said the police had seized the weapon used in the crime and preliminary forensic examination suggested that the pistol had jammed when it was used against Khalid.
He said they were yet to ascertain whether shots were fired as no empty cartridge was found at the spot. A case of attempt to murder was registered by police in connection with the incident.