A BJP worker was lynched and another was injured in Karnataka’s Udupi district when cow vigilantes of right-wing Hindu Jagaran Vedike attacked them while transporting cattle in this coastal district.
According to police, the deceased, identified as Praveen Poojary (29), was beaten to death while his friend Akshay Devadiga suffered injuries in the attack.
Police have o far arrested 16 cow vigilantes of the outfit in connection with the killing.
“We arrested 16 activists suspected to have assaulted victim Praveen Poojary and his friend Akshay Devadiga when they were transporting three cows in a van at Kajike near Hebri in the district late Wednesday night,” Udupi district Superintendent of Police KT Balakrishna said here on Thursday.
“Though Poojary was rushed to a state-run hospital nearby at Brahmavar, he succumbed to the injuries he sustained in the attack by the activists who suspected him of carrying the cows to a slaughterhouse,” Balakrishna said.
The district police registered a case of assault leading to murder and rioting under the IPC against the vigilantes at the Brahmavar police station.
“Poojary was a petty shopkeeper at Kajike and Bharatiya Janata Party's local unit member. He and Akshay hired the van from one Ramesh Poojary to transport the cows to Hebri,” the police officer said.
According to locals, the vigilantes had waylaid the two on suspicion they were from a minority community and selling cattle to abattoirs.
“On receiving a tip-off that the duo was taking cows in a van during night, the accused stopped it and assaulted them,” Balakrishna said.
Police stepped up security and intensified patrolling in the district to maintain peace.
"Prima facie, the incident appears to be a cattle trade-related dispute between the victim and the attackers. The suspects have been arrested and investigation will reveal the motive," Home Minister G Parameshwara told reporters in Bengaluru.
The incident comes close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to the state governments to prepare a dossier of anti-social elements masquerading as gau rakshaks (cow protectors) and take action against them.