Survivor recalls Alwar assault; three of the accused arrested

A day after Muslim dairy owner Rakbar Khan from Kolgaon village in Haryana was lynched by a group of seven persons in Rajasthan’s Alwar district on Friday night, his friend Aslam, who managed to escape the deadly attack, has named five persons in his statement to the police. The Rajasthan police said three of the five persons had been arrested.

The family of the victim, meanwhile, blocked the Gurugram-Alwar Highway for several hours on Saturday night seeking the arrest of the accused and compensation .

While two of the accused — Dharmendra Yadav and Paramjeet Singh — were arrested on Saturday, the third accused, Naresh Singh was arrested on Sunday. All three were produced before the Ramgarh Judicial Magistrate, who remanded them in police custody for five days.

Superintendent of Police Rajendra Singh, who was transferred from Ajmer to Alwar three days ago, visited Ramgarh on Sunday to monitor the probe. Mr. Singh said those found guilty would not be spared.

Dharmendra Yadav and Paramjeet Singh reportedly revealed the identity of the others involved in the assault during interrogation by the police. Police are also investigating the accused persons’ links with right wing organisations.

Assistant Sub-Inspector of Ramgarh Police Station Mohan Singh, who had come to Nuh to record Mr. Aslam’s statement, said he had named five persons. According to Mr. Aslam, he and Rakbar were returning from Khanpur with the cattle when the attack took place at Ramgarh’s Lalawandi village, Mr. Singh said.

Recounting the horror, he said through the assault, the assailants egged each other on to attack the two men.

“‘Vijay, break his legs’; ‘Dharmender, hit him hard on the head’; ‘And Naresh, you break his hands’. This is how they were talking among themselves,” said Mr. Aslam, his voice still shaking. “They were seven people. I remember the names of five of them,” he added.

A daily wage labourer, Mr. Aslam said he had accompanied Rakbar to help bring the cows back to Kolgaon. The duo had decided to travel at night in view of the several incidents of lynching in Alwar.

Transporting the two cows and their calves on foot through a forest area in Ramgarh, the duo were halfway home when, according to Aslam, “the animals were startled by a motorcycle on the road and strayed into the fields”.

“Holding the ropes of the cows, Rakbar was trying to drive them back on the road and I was a few steps behind him when the men surrounded us and opened fire in the air. While two ran towards me, the others caught Rakbar,” said Mr. Aslam. He, however, managed to flee and hide in the fields.

“I heard Rakbar screaming, but could not muster courage to come out,” he said.

After the attack, he walked through the night having lost his way, and reached Kolgaon village at 10 a.m. on Saturday. “By the time I reached the village, the police had already informed Rakbar’s family about his death,” said Mr. Aslam.

Rakbar’s family and other villagers placed Rakbar’s body on the Gurugram-Alwar Highway on Saturday evening, blocking traffic for almost four hours as they demanded the arrest of the accused and compensation for the kin.

The blockade was lifted around midnight following assurances from Rajasthan and Haryana officials of swift police action.

“We demanded that all accused be arrested and no mercy be shown to them. He [Rakbar] was the sole bread winner of the family of nine. We also demanded ₹5 lakh compensation for the family,” said Rakbar’s uncle Mohammad Umar.

The villagers and locals gathered at Rakbar’s house alleged that the Muslims transporting cattle from Rajasthan were frequently robbed, beaten up and even lynched.

“I have been in dairy business for almost two decades now, but this was never the case earlier. It started two to three years ago and has become a routine now. In fact, it is the worst in Alwar. Even the policemen at the check-points seek a bribe for letting us go. The so-called cow vigilantes also waylay us to seek money and sometimes even take away our cattle,” said Rakbar’s uncle Mohammed Ilyas.

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