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Cow vigilantes seem to be popping up everywhere these days, and sometimes in the most unexpected of places! Soon after they reportedly beat up a nine-year-old girl along with some others in Jammu and Kashmir, another section of these "cow protection brigades" put in an appearance in posh South Delhi!

A history of violence

Cow vigilantism is on the rise in India ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his right-wing BJP came to power after the 2014 general elections. It came to a head with the Dadri lynching incident in Uttar Pradesh in September 2015, when a group of men killed a Muslim man on suspicion that he had kept beef in his house refrigerator, and the Una incident in Gujarat, where Dalits were beaten up for transporting a cow carcass. 

More recently, a Muslim man named Pehlu Khan died in hospital just days after he was beaten up by cow vigilantes in Alwar, Rajasthan. Since then, there have been some other incidents of cow vigilantism, but never has one been reported in Delhi. Till now, that is. 

The Delhi incident

Police sources have been quoted by local reports as saying that three men — identified as Rizwan (25), Ashu (28) and Kamil (25) — were intercepted by cow vigilantes in the Kalkaji area of South Delhi on Saturday (April 22) night. The trio was reportedly transporting buffaloes to Gajipur Mandi when men from the NGO People For Animals (PFA) stopped them. 

The men were made to alight from the mini-truck they were travelling in and assaulted by PFA workers, police sources said. The men sustained injuries on their face and neck, and have susbequently been sent to hospital. The police said they were called on the spot by PFA office-bearer Gaurav Gupta, but found no PFA personnel on the spot when they arrived.

They sent the three victims to hospital for treatment, and are now examining whether the trio had the necessary permissions to transport the buffaloes. "Three people were taking buffaloes for legal slaughter when PFA men entered into a scuffle with them," DCP South East R Baaniya later told reporters. 

Effect on MCD polls?

There is now speculation that had this incident happened during the campaigning phase of the MCD elections, it could have been a major poll issue, with the AAP and the Congress wielding it as a weapon to corner the BJP. 

And given how strongly the BJP wants to hold on to the MCD and how badly the AAP wants to at least make inroads if not wrest power, the issue could easily have been blown up to show how violence being perpetrated in the name of cow protection had now made its way to Delhi.