Mohammed Shakir, a Muslim man, was assaulted for transporting beef by a group of men led by an individual calling himself a 'gau rakshak' (cow vigilante) on Sunday afternoon in western Uttar Pradesh's Moradabad district.
Shakir's brother said in a written complaint that he was threatened and then beaten up for riding his scooter with 50 kilogrammes of buffalo meat on it. According to the complaint, the vigilantes requested ₹ 50,000 from Shakir before assaulting him.
Based on a complaint from the victim's brother, the police have filed a case against the men who carried out the attack, identified as Manoj Thakur. They have, however, lodged a counter-case against the victim. The charges include 'mischief by killing an animal,' 'committing an act likely to spread infection,' and 'violation of Covid lockdown guidelines'.
"We got a video of a meat-seller being beaten up and we have filed a case. There are five to six accused who have been named. We are carrying out searches and will arrest them soon," Moradabad police chief Prabhakar Chaudhary said.
Thakur's association was also a point of contention, as he claimed to be the vice president of the Bharatiya Gauraksha Vahini, a cow vigilante group. "If the government gives me a force, I will catch the butchers who are slaughtering cows every day," Thakur said to The Quint.
But Bharatiya Gauraksha Vahini's National President, Rakesh Singh Parihar, told the news website that Thakur was expelled six months ago following extortion allegations.
According to Human Rights Watch, at least 44 people, including 36 Muslims, were killed in cow vigilante cases between May 2015 and December 2018.
In one of the brutal cases in 2016, a vigilante group killed a Muslim cattle trader and a 12-year-old boy travelling to an animal fair in Jharkhand. Their bodies were discovered hanging from a tree with their hands bound behind them, severely bruised.