A BJP worker was killed and another injured in Karnataka while transporting cattle in this coastal district, for which 16 cow vigilantes of right-wing Hindu Jagaran Vedike have been arrested, police said on Thursday.
“We today (Thursday) arrested 16 activists suspected to have assaulted victim Praveen Poojary, 29, and his friend Akshay Devadiga, 22, when they were transporting three cows in a van at Kajike near Hebri in the district late Wednesday night,” Udupi district Superintendent of Police K T Balakrishna said.
Udupi on the west coast is about 400 km from state capital Bengaluru.
“Though Poojary was rushed to a state-run hospital nearby at Brahmavar, he succumbed to the injuries he sustained in the attack by the activists who suspected him of carrying the cows to a slaughterhouse,” Balakrishna said.
The district police registered a case of assault leading to murder and rioting under the Indian Penal Code against the vigilantes at the Brahmavar police station.
“Poojary was a petty shopkeeper at Kajike and Bharatiya Janata Party’s local unit member. He and Akshay hired the van from one Ramesh Poojary to transport the cows to Hebri,” the police officer said.
According to local sources, the vigilantes had waylaid the two on suspicion they were from a minority community and selling cattle to abattoirs.
“On receiving a tip-off that the duo was taking cows in a van during night, the accused stopped it and assaulted them,” Balakrishna said.
Police stepped up security and intensified patrolling in the district to maintain peace.
“Prima facie, the incident appears to be a cattle trade-related dispute between the victim and the attackers. The suspects have been arrested and investigation will reveal the motive,” Home Minister G. Parameshwara told reporters in Bengaluru.