A disturbing video from 2012 of self proclaimed cow vigilantes beating and torturing two men in Punjab’s Rajpura is viral on Facebook with false claims that the men are Christians who were attacked by Hindus in Goa.
BOOM spoke to Gurmeet Singh Chauhan, Additional Inspector General, Punjab Police Intelligence Wing, Punjab police. Chauhan was the investigating officer who in 2016 had arrested the accused. He confirmed that the accused are gau rakshaks who were arrested for assaulting and torturing cattle traders on the suspicion that they were smuggling cows out of the state of Punjab.
The video, in which two men are seen brutally assaulted by a group of men, has been captioned as, “Two Christian men were beaten to death in Gova by a Hindu mob.”
Given the graphic nature of the video, BOOM has chosen not to include it in the story.
The video is viral on Facebook with the same caption.
The video is also shared on Twitter with the same communal narrative.
BOOM broke the video into key frames and performed a reverse image search and was directed to a longer clip which further documents an assailant urinating on one of the victims.
The video was uploaded on Youtube in 2012. At the 3-minute mark, the attacker, can be heard saying in Punjabi, “This is how our cows also suffer,” comparing the victim’s sufferings to the cows.
Listen here (Note – Viewer discretion advised)
Some comments on the video suggested that attack is on cattle smugglers by self proclaimed cow vigilantes.
BOOM then looked for the key words, “Gau Rakshak Punjab” and were directed to severel news articles about Satish Kumar, a self proclaimed cow vigilante who heads an organisation called Gau Raksha Dal.
According to the Times of India report, Kumar was arrested by Punjab Police for sodomising cattle traders and urinating on them. The statement mentions, “Satish along with other members had demanded Rs 30,000 from the two traders for allowing them to take their cattle laden vehicles from Punjab to UP. When they refused, Satish and his men urinated on their faces, beat them up and filmed the act. They also asked the traders to drink the urine.”
A report by the Indian Express further mentions that “the case was lodged
on August 6 two years after a video went viral showing Gau Raksha Dal members brutally thrashing people.”
BOOM then contacted Chauhan the then Senior Superitendent of Police of Patiala who led the team investigating the incident and also made the arrests of Kumar and his associates. Chauhan explained that the video is originally from Rajpura in Punjab with a case registered in Patiala. Chauhan said that the incident was from 2012 but the video of the same went viral four year later in 2016. “We registered a case in Patiala and began investigations. The man in the pink T-shirt in the video is Satish Kumar. Kumar and his aides were running an illegal cow protection team known as the Gau Raksha Dal. They inflicted terror on the Punjab highway by extorting money from cattle traders. And whoever didn’t pay, were subjected to such atrocities.” Chauhan confirmed that the police arrested Kumar after the video went viral on social media.
Several news outlets have reported about Satish Kumar’s self proclaimed cow protection drives, following which Kumar and his aides shared disturbing videos of tortures on cow traders on social media. “The Gau Raksha Dal allegedly used to post videos online of attacks on trucks “carrying cattle for slaughter”, showing drivers being thrashed and vehicles torched,” mentions the Mint.
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Swasti Chatterjee is a fact-checker and the Deputy News Editor of Boom's Bangla team. She has worked in the mainstream media, in the capacity of a reporter and copy editor with The Times of India, The Indian Express and NDTV.com and is now working as a digital detective, debunking fake news.
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