Neighbours have poured in to console the family of 22-year-old Warish who succumbed to his injuries on 28 January, leaving behind a three-month-old daughter. An unbearable grief has struck Hussainpur, a village in Haryana’s Nuh district.
They have seen Warish and two other Muslim men Shaukeen and Nafis assaulted and abused by a cow vigilante group, who recorded the video in presence of Haryana police. The “horror” on Waris’s face, who had just met with a car accident, haunts them.
“They killed him,” the family claimed, citing the viral video as glaring proof.
But Haryana Police have no interest in that “important detail” of Waris’s last hour. They claimed that he died of injuries sustained from the car crash.
The post-mortem report cites “severe internal bleeding in the abdominal cavity due to rupture of the liver” caused by “blunt force injury” as the cause of death.
Police say cow vigilantes informed the authority about an accident and the injured were taken to a medical facility in Tauru from where Warish and Nafis were referred to the Nalhar government medical college. Waris succumbed to injuries although he had no physical bruises.
“A complaint against Bajrang Dal members has been lodged in the daily diary register and if more facts emerge, we will probe,” police told Maktoob.
“In the presence of police, Monu [a ringleader of cow vigilante group] held us from 5:00 AM till 10:00 AM and kept torturing us,” Shaukeen, who was with Warish, said in a recording.
“Warish was horrendously wounded. he died at the hospital,” Shaukeen stated.
Shaukeen and Nafis, Warish friends who survived the attack, were taken to police custody in a case registered by a mini-truck driver involved in the car crash. They were also booked under Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act which prohibits cow slaughter in the state.
A cow was found in the trunk of the car in which Warish was travelling. A mechanic and car dealer, Waris was on his way back from Bhiwadi.
Reports and videos related to the incident saw outrage from activists and human rights groups. Amnesty India said, “Haryana’s govt must promptly, independently & impartially investigate whether his murder was motivated by discrimination & intolerance and bring the perpetrators to justice.”
“Hate crimes by alleged “cow protectors” continue unabated in the country,” the human rights outfit tweeted.
Grappled by Hindutva violence
Warish’s cousin, Shahid Hussain, said to Maktoob that Bajrang Dal members were live streaming the incident and they were just checking what was happening.
“When we went online, I saw my brother and two other young men being beaten up by cow vigilantes. They were alive at the time,” he said.
This had become a norm with the Bajrang Dal cow vigilantes, to inflict fear among Muslims. Many villagers, who resort to illegal means to transport cattle, keep a tab on their activities.
In one of the videos, the mob can be seen with guns in their hands, holding the three men by the collars in presence of policemen.
A 2015 anti-cow slaughter law led to a huge spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes including mob lynching in Nuh, where a majority of Muslims are poor and keeps cattle for livelihood.
In 2019, the Haryana government approved the addition of stricter provisions to the 2015 law, authorising the police to seize a vehicle involved in the transportation of animals for slaughtering and search the premises used for such a purpose.
The ban soon turned into a disguise for Hindutva men to raid Muslim homes and properties while law enforcement agencies are alleged accomplices.
The dive into the social media account of Monu Maneshwar, the prime accused in Warish’s family’s complaint, show numerous instances of attacks against minorities.
When reached out, Maneshwar refuted the allegations but admitted that he runs a cow protection group who were at the spot of the accident.
“Allegations on me are completely false and baseless. Warish was injured after the accident because the car collided with an auto. We have photographic proof as evidence for that,” Maneshwar told Maktoob.
“We have filed a complaint before the police. But they did not file a case. We demand justice,” Hussain added.