Bengaluru, Aug 18: Hindu groups appear to have ignored Prime Minister Narendra Modi's warning against cow vigilantism. Eleven days after Modi's sharp jibe at 'fraudulent gau rakshaks', right-wing goons killed a BJP worker for allegedly smuggling cows at Kajike in Udupi district
At around 10 pm on Wednesday, goons -- allegedly members of Hindu Jagarana Vedike (HJV), Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishat (VHP), attacked a tempo that was ferrying two cows and killed Praveen Poojary (28).
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The goons used sticks and machetes to attack Praveen Poojary and Akshay Devadiga (20). While Poojary died on the spot, Akshay sustained injuries and is being treated in a private hospital at Brahmavar. Poojary was a BJP worker in Udupi.
Udupi SP K.T. Balakrishna said the Hebri police had registered an FIR invoking sections relating to murder and rioting and had arrested 18 Hindu activists on Thursday. "The prime accused, Shrikanth, belongs to HJV. We are trying to establish the affiliations of the other 17", Balakrishna said, adding that they were suspected to be Bajrang Dal and VHP members.
The VHP's Mangaluru district president Jagadish Shenava, however, denied that his organisation had any role in the murder. Speaking to OneIndia, Shenava said "All the accused belong to HJV. VHP had no role in the incident."
He added that he condemned such attacks. When questioned if this was the cow vigilantes' reaction to Modi's criticism of gau rakshaks, Shenava said, "I cannot react to this because the VHP is not in the picture," but he added in the same breath, "I take a strong view against Modi's statement calling gau rakshaks anti-social. Hindu activists are putting their life at risk to save the cow."
"Modi became PM only because Hindu activists worked for him. PM's recent statements will not stop HJV from carrying out what it has been doing for years. The enthusiasm of gau rakshaks will double now", Shenava said.
Bajrang Dal state president Sharan Pumpwell said his activists did not take part in the Udupi attack. "Bajrang Dal does not break the law. We carry out cow protection legally, ensuring no damage to law and order", he said.
Asked for his reaction to Modi's statement on gau rakshaks, he said, "I am deeply hurt by Modi's statement, but we will not stop the good work we have been doing".