I’m Being Forced to Settle: Moradabad Man Thrashed by Gau Rakshaks
Manoj Thakur, the main accused who owned up to thrashing Shakir shortly after the incident, is on the run.
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“It is buffalo’s meat, it is buffalo’s meat! I kept screaming this but no one listened to me. They kept saying I have slaughtered a cow. I tried to say that I did the job of selling buffalo meat, but they were not listeningg,” 32-year-old Shakir, a butcher who was thrashed in broad daylight by cow vigilantes (gau rakshaks) in Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad on 23 May, said from his home days after the incident.
The Quint had spoken to him within a day of the incident, but he was unwell and unable to talk then. “I was going through some treatment, I am better now,” he said.
On the complaint of an eyewitness he is related to, an FIR was registered and four men have been arrested since. The main accused though, Manoj Thakur, who calls himself the vice president of Bharatiya Gauraksha Vahini, an organisation that disowns him, is still on the run.
In the FIR against Thakur, five others have also been named as accused. This includes Pradeep, Babu, Gulshan alias Gully, Sumit, Vijay, and four to five unnamed persons. They have been booked under section 147 (rioting), 148 (armed with a deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly), 389 (extortion), 386 (extortion by putting a person in fear of death), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
The complainant, Junaid, had told us how he saw Shakir tied to a tree and then beaten up for an hour. We spoke to Shakir who told us what went down and his repeated attempts to reason with the accused were pointless.
“I was taking buffalo meat when these people stopped me and cornered me from all sides. These people started beating me as soon as they got me off my vehicle. Manoj Thakur was leading the group, there were eight to ten others,” Shakir said, recalling the moment the mob had set their eyes on him.
“They tied me to a tree and started beating me up,” he said as a crowd began to gather around them.
When asked what was it that the men kept telling him, he said:
“The men kept demanding Rs 50,000 from me. They thrashed me hard on my ear. They said I should call home and quickly arrange for Rs 50,000 to pay them and then they will let me go. Thakur also said that I would have to pay him another additional Rs 25,000 every month to keep doing my job. He threatened and said that if I do not pay up they will keep accusing me in cases of cow slaughter. They said I dare share any of this with the police.”
This is an allegation also made by the president of the Bharatiya Gauraksha Vahini that Thakur proudly claims to be a member of. “It was actions like taking money from people that finally led to us throwing him out six months ago. Even the local Sangh workers have said this man is not right,” the outfit’s president, Rakesh Singh Parihar, said.
He said they beat him for one to one to a half hours. The police finally came and he was taken to the police station. By then Thakur had fled the spot and area, but not before giving an interview to the local reporters where he accepted that he had thrashed the victim but said he did this cause he was ‘under attack’.
There is no proof whatsoever of this allegation.
“No one came ahead to save me. Not one person. Everyone is scared of him (Thakur). He kept on threatening people who were present there and disallowing everyone from making a video saying that he will kill them otherwise.”Shakir recalled the fear in some of the people while he was being thrashed.
Ever since the incident, Shakir says he is being consistently threatened. “The threats come every day and everyone is pressurising me to strike a compromise (faisla karlo) and take my case back. This has been happening.”
Shakir is living every day in fear. “I thought they were going to kill me. Ever since the incident, my treatment is going on.”
When asked what he expects from the government, he said, “I want that with my state, the government should take care of me, ensure my safety so that there are no attacks on me.”
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