Srinagar: 11 people have been arrested after five members of a nomad family including a 9-year-old girl were brutally attacked by cow vigilantes in Kashmir’s Reasi last week.
The hooligans attacked the family with iron rods and sticks in Reasi’s Talwara area during the intervening night of April 20 and 21.
Meanwhile, a video on NDTV of the horrific incident shows the family pleading for mercy even as attackers go on a rampage, breaking and burning their sheds and chanting slogans.
Police in Jammu said that the accused are members of a self-styled group of cow vigilantes who were joined by a mob to attack the family. Counter FIRs have been lodged at the concerned police station and the police sources said that five of the accused have been identified.
Reasi’s SSP Tahir Sajjad Bhat, however, sought to downplay the incident saying it was a “clear cut” case of misunderstanding and that no cow vigilante group was involved in it.
A police official told this correspondent privately that the police are reluctant to lay their hands on the culprits as that could create a law and order problem in the area. Earlier reports had said that four of the five accused were arrested by the police after their identification.
The incident has evoked widespread anger among the Muslim population of the region, particularly nomad Gujjar and Bakerwal tribes who have urged the authorities to take the assailants to task. Various political, social and religious organisations have endorsed the demand.
The victims told the police that they were intercepted by a large group of ‘gau rakshaks’ and attacked with iron rods and sticks. The assailants then took their entire flock including cattle, sheep and goats.
The police officials said that the livestock was recovered during police raids and has since been restored to the Bakerwal or goatherds family. The injured who have suffered multiple fractures were admitted to hospital and, according to the SSP, have since been discharged.
The victim family said that the assailants did not spare even the elderly and small children.