Khandwa (Madhya Pradesh), July 8 (IANS) Even before the Madhya Pradesh government could put into effect its plans to rein in cow vigilantes, another incident took place near Khandwa that has rocked the state.
Over 100 villagers on Sunday tied 25 people with a rope and paraded them through a 2 km stretch to a police station for allegedly transporting cows to Maharashtra, the police said. However, no one was injured in the "operation" carried out by the gaurakshaks.
A video of the purported incident showed several villagers carrying sticks and forcing the alleged cattle-transporters to do sit-ups holding their ears amid cries of "Gau Mata Ki Jai".
The incident took place in Sanwlikheda village in Khalwas area, about 60 km from the district headquarters, a police officer said.
"We have booked the people ferrying the cattle for doing so without requisite permissions. We have also lodged a case against the villagers, including the farmers, for ill-treating those booked for unauthorised cattle transport," Khandwa Superintendent of Police Shiv Dayal Singh said.
The transporters had no papers authorising the relocation of the cattle.
"The villagers brought the group transporting cows to our police station. We seized 21 trucks used for the purpose. The cows have been shifted to a shelter. They were taking the cows from Khategaon in Harda district in MP to Maharashtra," said Inspector Harishanker Rawat of the Khalwas police station.
The incident happened a day before the start of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly session in which the Kamal Nath government is likely to table an amendment in a law to curb violence in the name of cow protection.
The state cabinet last month approved the proposal to amend the MP Cow Progeny Slaughter Prevention Act, 2004. The move to amend the law, cleared during the previous BJP government, followed violence against a Muslim man and woman on suspicion of carrying beef in MP's Seoni district in May.
The cabinet on Wednesday had approved changes to a law to make cow vigilantism a punishable offence. The state proposed jail term ranging from six months to three years for those who engage in violence against anyone charged under anti-cow slaughter rules.
Kamal Nath's cabinet cleared an amendment to include the above provision as well as a fine ranging from Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000.
The punishment will increase to a minimum one year and maximum five years if a mob is involved in the violence. In the case of repeat offenders, the jail term will be doubled.
The amendment will also include a provision to punish those who damage property of those charged under the anti-cow slaughter law and punishment of a jail term of one to three years for those who abet cow vigilantism.
Once the legislation is brought in the state Assembly, Madhya Pradesh would become the first state in the country to legislate against cow vigilantism.
The Kamal Nath government was hardly two months old when it invoked the National Security Act (NSA) against three Muslim youth. The accused Azam, Nadeem and Shakeel were arrested on charges of cow slaughter from Kharkali village under Morghat police station of the communally sensitive Khandwa district on February 2. The move was seen as subscription to soft Hindutva.
Superintendent of Police Siddharth Bahuguna, who recommended slapping the NSA against the youth, justified the decision on the grounds that exemplary action against the accused was warranted to pre-empt the outbreak of communal tension over alleged cow slaughter. Senior leaders like Digvijaya Singh had opposed the NSA invocation though.
With a thinly spread minority population of six to seven per cent, the Congress finds it electorally pragmatic to avoid appearing overly secular and face accusations of appeasing Muslims.