Manoj Thakur, who claims to be vice president of the Bharatiya Gauraksha (cow protection) Vahini, thrashed a Muslim man, Shakir, with a stick repeatedly in broad daylight in Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad district on 23 May.
In a video of the incident which has gone viral, one can see Shakir, who is from Nar Kheda village in Moradabad, being hit while people look on.
In another video, Thakur can be seen asking Shakir what he has in his vehicle, where the bill is, his name and other questions. “Why don’t you go and check before thrashing me,” Shakir can be heard saying.
Details of Police Investigation and FIRs
The police have taken note of the matter and are investigating the case.
“Two FIRs have been registered. One against Manoj Thakur for beating the man and another against Shakir for not wearing a mask. Neither of the men is at the station,” Station House Officer (SHO) Katghar told The Quint around midnight on the intervening night of 23 and 24 May.
In the FIR against Thakur, five others have been named as accused. This includes Pradeep, Babu, Gulshan alias Gully, Sumit, Vijay, and four to five unnamed persons. The sections of the FIR are 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).
The eyewitness and complainant of the FIR, Junaid, who is a distant relative of Shakir said he was on his way to Moradabad when he saw a crowd and then found Shakir in the middle of it. Shakir had 50 kilograms of buffalo meat on him, Junaid said.
“When I reached there I saw Shakir, who had been tied to a tree at the time. Then they untied him, slapped and abused him. He said if Shakir does not pay him Rs 50,000 he will kill him. The men there were barely letting us take videos of everything. I do not have the evidence but I saw it. People are very scared. Especially if you are a Muslim, with a Muslim name, people are petrified of him,” Junaid said.
While Shakir knows some case has been registered against him for not following lockdown guidelines, he does not know the details. He sounded upset when we spoke to him briefly over a call. “Did you see how they slapped me again and again? You saw the video? You saw how they hit me then,” he said as he sounded tired.
Junaid took the phone and said Shakir needed rest.
Manoj Thakur Says Working for Cow Protection
When directly asked why Thakur attacked Shakir, he said, digressing from the query, “Someone attacked me some days ago, there has been no investigation on it. Yesterday some butchers harassed me, there was no investigation on it. The police do not listen to me. If Manoj Thakur (referring to himself) beats someone up with a stick a few times, it is a sin however when someone tries to take my life then it is not a crime?”
He goes onto express his devotion towards cow protection and says, “If the government gives me a force, I will catch the butchers who are slaughtering cows every day.”
When asked why Thakur did not take the alleged accused to the police, he said if he had waited he would have been attacked by the man he thrashed. He backed this allegation of a threat to his safety with no evidence or information.
Referring to the CM he said, “Your administration is trying to kill those who are trying to work in the name of cow protection.”
Then without being provoked he said, “People say that Manoj Thakur is taking money, whoever is saying that please go home and see how I live.” This is a claim also made by the eyewitness Jundaid earlier.
Is Manoj Thakur a Member of Bharatiya Gauraksha Vahini?
It is these allegations of taking money that were repeated again by the president of the Bharatiya Gauraksha Vahini, Thakur claims to be a part of.
National president Rakesh Singh Parihar said that contrary to whatever Thakur claims, that he is the national vice president of the Bharatiya Gauraksha Vahini, he was fired from the organisation six months ago.
“Manoj Thakur was thrown out of the Bharatiya Gauraksha Vahini six months ago for engaging in problematic activities. There were several allegations against him of taking money from people. Our local Sangh representatives in Moradabad also told us about this. It seems like now we will have to put out a separate press release saying he is not in the party to avoid further confusion. We keep telling him but he does not listen.”Rakesh Singh Parihar.
He added that since there were several people who work in slaughterhouses in the area, Thakur harasses them. “Kissi ka topi kisi aur ko pehnana, aur unka topi kissi teesre ko pehnana. Aisa hi kaam karte the vo. (Fool one person with another, and the second with a third. This is what he goes around doing),” he said.
We have not been provided with any release or document to show that Thakur was officially expelled from the organisation, six months ago, yet.