Bengaluru: Praveen Poojary, 29, from Karnataka’s Udupi district was lynched allegedly by a mob of right wing groups including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal and Hindu Jagrana Vedike late on Wednesday.
Poojary’s companion Akshay Devadiga was also attacked but is recuperating in a local hospital.
The incident—the latest in a series of attacks by ‘Gau Rakshaks’ or cow protector groups—comes barely two weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi called such vigilantism ‘anti-social’ and asked state governments to identify the culprits and act against them.
The PM’s message was termed as an ‘insult’ by VHP’s international working president Praveen Togadia. The incident also shows how the PM’s remark seems to have made no effect on fringe elements taking the law into their own hands in the name of protecting the cow.
“He was taking two cows in a van and he was waylaid by a group of VHP, Bajrang Dal and members of other right wing groups at around 10.30 pm (Wednesday) night) near Hebri (Taluk). He was then beaten up by the group," a police official told Mint over the phone on Thursday.
K.T. Balakrishna, superintendent of police, Udupi district said 18 persons have been arrested in the case so far. Media reports stated that there were many BJP workers among the group that lynched Poojary. This information could not be confirmed.
Poojary’s body was cremated on Thursday, Balakrishna said.
The incident in Udupi—one of the strongholds of the BJP in the state—highlights the growing reach of vigilantism among other such incidents reported in the past.
The state unit secretary of the VHP could not be reached for comment immediately.
In September last year, 52 year old Mohammed Akhlaq in Bisahra village in Uttar Pradesh was lynched to death over rumours that he and his family had stored and consumed beef in their house.
More recently, members of a Dalit family were thrashed in public for skinning a dead cow in Gir-Somnath district in Gujarat on 11 July. Akhlaq’s lynching and the Gir incident had given the opposition parties enough ammunition to attack the Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre in the months that followed.