Vigilantes attack truck taking cows from Rajasthan to Tamil Nadu, block highway


A mob of at least 50 people intercepted five trucks near Rajasthan’s Barmer late on Sunday, attacking drivers and attempting to set fire to the vehicles carrying cows purchased by Tamil Nadu under a project to protect cows.

Rajasthan is one of several states where vigilante groups claiming to be working for the protection of cows have attacked people ferrying cattle, often accusing the animals were being taken for slaughter. On April 1, cattle trader Pehlu Khan was assaulted by similar vigilantes, who left him with injuries that claimed his life two days later.

Sunday’s attack on the National Highway-15 in Barmer led to the arrest of four people and the suspension of the seven police officers from the local station for “not taking the matter seriously and arriving late at the scene”.

“We have named 50 people in the FIR and have arrested four of them for violence, damage to public property and for obstructing government officials from discharging of duty,” said Barmer superintendent of police Gagandeep Singla said.

The attackers alleged the cows were being taken illegally when they stopped the trucks and attacked the drivers. When police reached the spot, the mob raised slogans and attacked them with stones.

The Barmer SP said the lorries were hired by the Tamil Nadu government, and the drivers had valid documents from the Jaisalmer animal husbandry department and sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) for transport outside the state.

Sources said the cattle were purchased under a programme called the Rashtriya Gokul Mission, begun by the BJP government at the Centre to protect cow species. The programme funds purchase of cows by governments to for breeding with local cattle, and police officials said Tamil Nadu had spent Rs 25 lakh for the 50 bovines intercepted in Barmer.

The TN government hired the lorries for Rs 1.25 lakh each and had given drivers Rs 60,000 up front, an officer added.

The arrested suspects were identified as Chaina Ram, Kamlesh Kumar, Vikaram Kumar and Jaswant Singh.

Tamil Nadu animal husbandry department officials reached Barmer on Monday morning when they learnt about the attack. They were in Jaisalmer from where the cattle was procured.

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