ALWAR, RAJASHTAN: Seven months after diary owner Pehlu Khan was beaten to death in Rajasthan's Alwar, the police are investigating allegations that another Muslim was killed by cow vigilantes on Friday. One person has been detained for the murder of Umar Khan, whose body was found with gunshot wounds on rail tracks.
Six people may be involved in the latest killing, the police say.
State Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria, questioned about the second such incident in the state this year, said it "can't yet be said what is actually the case". He also sought to explain: "We don't have enough manpower to control every situation in all cities in time." Action would be taken, he asserted, "whether the accused is Hindu or Muslim".
Ummar Khan, 42, was bringing home cows that he bought when he was attacked and shot dead, according to his family, which belongs to the Meo community of farmers and cattle-owners. The family has told the police that he was with two relatives, who were also attacked. One of them, 42-year-old Tahir Khan, is in hospital. The other, 28-year-old Javed Khan, is missing.
Ummar Khan's family, which lives in a village in Bharatpur called Ghaatmeeka, has refused to accept his body unless it is given Rs. 50 lakh compensation.
Ummar Khan's body was found hours after the police seized an abandoned pick-up truck with six cows; one of them dead and the others with their feet and mouth tied. The tyres of the truck had been removed.
The police filed a case under the Rajasthan Bovine Act, which prohibits cattle slaughter and restricts their transport and sale.
But they say they have yet to establish a connection between the dead man and the cows.
Ummar Khan's family asserts that the truck belonged to him and he was getting home cattle he had bought at a market. Alleging a cover-up, the family on Sunday protested outside the district headquarters of Alwar and demanded a fair investigation.
"Ummar was killed by Gau Rakshaks (cow vigilantes)... we demand an inquiry. We are being harassed," said Sher Mohammad, a leader of the Meo panchayat.
"Our community is such that every house has two cows. Meos are farmers and cattle rearers...we cannot earn a livelihood if we are attacked like this," he stressed.
In April, Pehlu Khan, 55, was beaten to death on suspicion of cattle smuggling. A group of attackers was seen grabbing Khan by the neck, bashing his head to the ground, kicking and punching him. The Rajasthan police recently gave a clean chit to the six men he named in his dying declaration, saying there was no evidence against them.