Former Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Gyan Dev Ahuja was caught on camera saying that his supporters have so far "lynched five people" for "cow smuggling."
"We have so far lynched five people, be it in Lawandi or Behror. This has happened for the first time in this area that they have lynched someone. I have given free hand to workers to kill. We will get them acquitted and secure bail," the MLA is seen saying in the video, presumably referring to the Pehlu Khan and Rakbar Khan lynching cases.
Commenting about the video, which has since gone viral, Ahuja told ANI, "Muslims are protected by Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot. I have told my workers that those found cow smuggling should be caught and if they try to escape, they should be thrashed and handed over to the police. Won't take the law into my hands."
The BJP leader has been booked by the Alwar Police for allegedly promoting hatred and enmity. Station House Officer of Govindgarh police station, Shiv Shankar, said the case was registered by police on the basis of the video which surfaced after Ahuja visited the family of 45-year-old Chiranjilal Saini, who was lynched by Mev Muslim community members on suspicion of tractor theft, on Friday.
Saini died during treatment at Jaipur's state-run SMS Hospital on Monday. Shankar said the FIR was registered under IPC section 153-A for promoting hatred and enmity on the grounds of religion.
In the video, the BJP leader is seen making the comment while interrupting a speaker, who was urging a group of people to launch an agitation against the lynching of Saini.
BJP Tries To Distance From Ex-MLA's Views
Ahuja's video subsequently went viral, and invited immense outrage on social media. The controversy led to BJP's Alwar (South) chief Sanjay Singh Naruka having to clarify that the party "does not have this thinking."
"These are his own views," he told PTI.
However, Ahuja reiterated his position that anyone involved in cow smuggling and slaughter won't be spared. The former MLA said he was sitting with a local Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader who suggested launching of an agitation to protest against the lynching of Saini. Ahuja told PTI that he told the speaker that five Mev Muslims, who were "smuggling cows," were "beaten up by our workers."
"It is the Mev people who smuggle and slaughter cow and Hindus have sentiments for cows, therefore, they target such smugglers," he said, adding it was his duty to protect his workers.
The Past Lynchings
Sharing the video on Twitter, Rajasthan Congress chief Govind Singh Dotasra said it has exposed the BJP's true face.
"What more proof is needed of the BJP's religious terror and bigotry? The real face of the BJP has been exposed," he said.
In recent years, at least two incidents have taken place in Alwar where cow vigilantes attacked Mev community people on allegation of cow smuggling.
In one such incident, 55-year-old Pehlu Khan was lynched in Behror on 1 April 2017. Similarly, Rakbar Khan died after being beaten up in Lawandi village in Alwar's Ramgarh on 20 July 2018 on suspicion of cow smuggling.
Both belonged to the Meo Muslim community, which mostly engaged in the dairy trade. They were transporting cattle and were lynched by vigilantes who claimed to protect cows.
(With inputs from PTI.)