AT LEAST three of the accused named in the FIR on the alleged murder last week of Rajasthan residents Junaid and Nasir have close ties with the police in Haryana’s Nuh district — as informers on suspected cattle smugglers, even accompanying police teams on raids.
Records reviewed by The Indian Express show that the three, Rinku Saini, Lokesh Singla and Shrikant, are described as informers in at least four FIRs lodged over the past two months in the Ferozepur Jhirka and Nagina police stations in Nuh.
They are among five accused initially named in connection with the alleged murder of Junaid and Nasir, and are part of cow vigilante groups. The list also includes Monu Manesar, a Bajrang Dal member and face of the cow protection task force of the Haryana government in Gurgaon. On Monday, the Rajasthan police added eight more persons on the list.
February 14: This is the most recent FIR that underscores the ties of the three accused with the Haryana police. It was filed at the Ferozepur Jhirka station at 10.30 pm (hours before Junaid and Nasir are suspected to have been kidnapped) under Haryana’s cattle slaughter law.
The FIR states that a police team was stationed near Nuh’s Agon village when “secret informer (guptchar) and cow vigilante (gau rakshak) Rinku” informed that five men involved in cattle smuggling would be travelling towards Rajasthan in a pick-up truck to slaughter cattle, and can be nabbed with barricades.
The FIR states that barricading was done and after 10-15 minutes, on Rinku’s signal, a pick-up truck was flagged down. “Seeing the police, the pick-up truck tried to reverse but could not do so due to the traffic. The driver and his four associates jumped out of the truck’s windows and… managed to escape,” reads the FIR, which was registered on the complaint of assistant sub-inspector Jamshed.
The FIR states that Rinku identified the five accused, who were booked under the Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act, 2015, as well as the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
The Ferozepur Jhirka station has now come under the scanner over Junaid and Nasir’s deaths after Rinku told Rajasthan Police that the cow vigilantes had taken the two men there on suspicion of cattle smuggling. Police in Haryana have said they are probing the allegations.
January 23: Another FIR was registered at the Ferozepur Jhirka station, based on the complaint of sub-inspector Balbeer Singh, identifies Rinku as “a mukhbir khaas (secret informer) and a member of gau raksha dal”.
It states that a police raid was conducted near Khera village based on Rinku’s tip-off that five men involved in cattle smuggling will pass through the area in a pick-up truck and head to Rajasthan for cattle slaughter. The FIR states that one person was arrested and three managed to escape.
January 19: This FIR at the same station was based on a tip-off from Singla. The FIR describes Singla as a member of a cow protection group. It states he informed police that three men involved in cattle smuggling would be going to Rajasthan’s Ghatmika village and that they can be nabbed if a raid is conducted. Incidentally, Junaid and Nasir hailed from the same village.
The FIR states that when the police team reached the spot along with Singla, three men and two cows were spotted. It further states that Singla identified the accused as they were running away, and they were booked under The Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act.
January 1: Two FIRs were lodged on the same day against suspected cattle smugglers: one at the Nagina police station on a tip-off by Shrikant and the other at the Ferozepur Jhirka station on a tip-off from Rinku.
In the Nagina FIR, police said a patrolling team was alerted by Shrikant, a member of the gau raksha dal, and his associate that a cattle smuggler was slaughtering an animal in Sultanpur. “A raiding party was formed and the accused was questioned… and booked,” the FIR states.
In the other FIR, police said they conducted a raid at a village in Nuh to nab four cattle smugglers, who managed to escape.
In 2021, the Haryana government had notified a special cow protection task force, including officials and members of local gau rakshak committees. However, the state’s cow vigilante groups have once again come under scanner even since the death of the two Rajasthan men, whose charred bodies were recovered from a vehicle in the Loharu area of Bhiwani.
As first reported by The Indian Express, Mohit Yadav alias Monu Manesar, was named in another murder complaint just weeks earlier, on February 28, but the Haryana police did not convert it into an FIR, reasoning that the victim died of injuries sustained in an accident.
When contacted, Satish Kumar, DSP, Ferozepur Jhirka, said, “The three cow vigilantes, Rinku, Lokesh and Srikant, have often passed tips about suspected cattle smugglers to the police. Their role is limited to passing information to the police. On some occasions, they have accompanied the police as witnesses.”
Nuh SP Varun Singla said, “They are self-styled gau rakshaks or cow vigilantes and their association is only to the level that they generate actionable intelligence. In certain cases, if they are willing to be independent witnesses, they can accompany the police. There is a provision in law that police have to gather independent witnesses who can verify and vet information.”
Singla denied that the accused had any affiliation with the government. “They have divided themselves into district and state units through their affiliation with non-profits working for cow protection. In a year, over 200 cases related to cattle slaughter are registered in the district. In a majority of these raids, police rely on information from other sources or technical information and in only a few of these cases, these informers accompany the police,” he said.
Source: Indian Express