A riot-like situation broke out in UP’s Mainpuri, about 100 km from Agra, on Friday after a mob chased down and nearly lynched four men accused of killing and skinning a cow. Two of them were hospitalised in critical condition. A contingent of the PAC had to be called in after rampaging mobs set on fire more than a dozen shops. They also targeted police vehicles, two of which they gutted, and personnel, injuring 7 cops. Many local residents, too, were hurt in clashes that followed. Tear gas had to be used to disperse the arsonists.
How it all began
It all started when at around 8 am a group of people said they saw four men skinning a cow. Soon a crowd materialised out of nowhere and started advancing towards the four who were seen with the cow. While two managed to escape, the other two were caught. Later it transpired that it was a dead cow that the men were skinning and that its owner had actually allowed them to do so.
About 500 people had gathered at the spot by 9 am. Angry villagers demanded that the men who killed the cow get instant, public justice. Policemen who ruled out meting out any punishment on the basis of allegations were beaten up by the ferocious crowd. Within hours flames were seen leaping out of makeshift structures dotting the streets in the area as arsonists roamed around with rods, bamboo sticks and guns. People in the locality rushed to shut down shops and head home.
IG, Agra Zone, DC Mishra was quoted saying that “the cow was a dead one”. He added, “The men were only removing the skin for sale to a tannery. Our initial probe shows that they had not killed the cow.
Who spread the rumour
The clashes, occurring at a time when the state witnessed the first phase of polling for the panchayat elections, had the state police on its toes throughout the day. DIG Singh in the evening informed that two FIRs have been lodged — one against the men charged with killing the cow, both residents of Mainpuri, and the second against about 500 unidentified men for triggering riots at a time when Section 144 of CrPC was already in place in view of the panchayat polls.
She added, “We came to know that the cow had died of natural causes. The owner himself had given the cow to the two men to remove its skin. The cow owner’s son had spread rumours about the slaughter, setting off the violence. The cow’s owner and his son are both wanted in the case.”
SHO Karhal, Dilip Singh, said about 20 arrests have so far been made in the case. Raids were being conducted to nab the owner of the cow and his son, both of whom have been identified, he said.