NEW DELHI: In a gruesome incident sought to be suppressed by the police initially, and by the media celebrating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday bash, a Muslim man was beaten to death in Ahmedabad by cow vigilantes.

Mohammad Ayhub and Sameer Sheikh, in an Innova, were going towards Ahmedabad with two calves on September 13 when they were accosted by cow vigilantes in three cars, chased, and their car rammed near Karnavati club in Ahmedabad. The two were reportedly pulled out of the car and beaten with sticks and rods. Sheikh sustained head injuries but Ayub who bore the brunt of the thrashing succumbed to the beating, dying later in hospital.

The police later registered two FIRs, the first against Sheikh and Ayyub under the Cow Protection Act, and the other against the cow vigilantes as an attempt to murder case. Activists in Ahmedabad have pointed out that while the first FIR against the assailants named them, as well as noted the numbers of the three cars used in the chase, all these details were omitted in a second FIR.

As activist Prateek Sinha pointed out that even if the Muslims had been “indulging in an illegal act according to the laws of state of Gujarat, the Gau Rakshaks had no right to assault them and they should have been handed over to the police instead. However, the Gau Rakshaks are so empowered in Modi Raj that they go on to beat up people till they die. Just 2 months back, Dalit boys in Una were thrashed up for skinning dead cows and now a man has been murdered in the middle of Ahmedabad by Gau Rakshaks.”

The Una incident when four Dalit youth were tied, stripped and flogged by Gau Rakshaks just two months ago, united the Dalits and Muslims to take out a huge yatra across Gujarat, culminating in Una. The Ahmedabad death has brought the same marginalised sections of society out again to maintain a vigil at the hospital/police station and demand just action.

The activists are keeping track of the developments to ensure that the injuries sustained are listed correctly, and not changed by the police. In a bid to dispel possible agitation, the cops assured the crowd that the policemen accused of not doing their duty would face action, and that the Gau Rakshaks would be arrested.

Mohammad Ayub’s devastated family has refused to accept his body until action is taken. Their lawyer said that the family had decided to wait for a day for the police to keep its word. Ayub is survived by his mother, wife, a toddler and a six month old baby. Ayub’s mother Mehraz Bibi alleged, “The gau rakshaks killed by son. Now, cops are trying to present it as an accident. For the past two days the cops have been telling us that this is an accident. They are supporting the gau rakshaks when they deserve the most stringent punishment.” Ayub’s brother Akhtar saidm . “We are not going to take away his body till they take strict action against the accused. Nobody has the right to take law in his hands.”

The anger was palpable in the crowd that had collected to ask for justice. The cow vigilantes are clearly not on the police radar in Gujarat, that has been involved in cracking down on activists and political leaders seen as critical of PM Modi before his visit. Dalit youth leader Jignesh Mewani was arrested on his way back from Delhi and whisked away initially to an unknown destination. Patidars, Dalits and others including Aam Aadmi party members form the bulk of the arrests, according to activists in Gujarat.

For large sections of the so called national media preoccupied with the PM’s birthday, the heinous assault by vigilantes taking the law into their own hands, or the detention of those seen as opponents to the BJP in Gujarat, is just a side show not to be even noted.