The Uttar Pradesh police on Wednesday arrested Sanjay Jat, national spokesperson of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, and three of his aides in connection with a case of cow slaughter in Agra on March 30.
“Sanjay Jat, Jitendra Kushwaha, Brajesh Bhadoria and Saurabh Sharma have been arrested and produced in court. It has come to light during the investigation that they had enmity with four persons and wanted to implicate them in the case,” Rakesh Kumar Singh, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Chhatta, said.
On March 30, members of the right-wing group reported the killing of a cow at Gautam Nagar in Agra amid Ram Navami festivities. A first information report (FIR) was lodged based on a complaint filed by Mr. Kushwaha, who accused four Muslim men of committing the crime, a senior police officer investigating the case said.
The police found the carcass in the area and picked up one of the Muslim men from his house at 3 a.m., the officer said.
However, the police investigation revealed that the Muslim men were not involved in the case and Mr. Jat’s associates allegedly committed the offence to frame the men. “Call detail records (CDR) showed that those named in the FIR were not present at the crime spot,” the officer said.
The police said Mr. Jat’s aide, Jhallu, was a butcher of cattle and the Muslim men were his competitors.
Mr. Jhallu and his associates allegedly caught a cow in Gautam Nagar, killed it and alerted Mr. Jat, who informed the Etmaddulah police station about the incident.
“Two of the accused were cow traders and Jhallu’s business competitors. He held a grudge against the other two,” the officer said.
The call detail records of the Mahasabha members and Mr. Jhallu showed they were in touch, and CCTV footage revealed that the act was premeditated.
Mr. Jhallu was jailed on charges of cow slaughter in the past, while Mr. Jat and his aides have cases of extortion, attempt to murder and cheating lodged against them, the police said.
Nakeem, one of the four named in the FIR and an employee of the Agra Municipal Corporation, said the conspirators choose a “sensitive day” to commit the crime. He said he was attending a family function in Mathura when the incident took place.
Speaking to The Hindu over phone from Lucknow, Mr. Jat said he was being “framed for doing the right thing”.
“The police are hand in glove with those who slaughter cows. I am a thorn in their side as I often foil their plans,” said Mr. Jat, who left his job at a bank to become a cow vigilante and whose WhatsApp status is ‘Hindu Gangster’.
Swami Chakrapani, national president of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha, confirmed that Mr. Jat was a member of the outfit, and a State-level committee had been formed to probe his involvement in the crime. “He will be expelled if found guilty,” Mr. Chakrapani said.
The incident had made headlines after Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on April 9 demanded immediate action against the offenders.
“According to the U.P. police, anti-social elements tried to spoil the harmony of the State by making false allegations against people of other communities on the occasion of Ram Navami in Agra. They should be punished immediately and the police personnel who honestly investigated the case should be rewarded,” Mr. Yadav said in a tweet.
However, Vikas Kumar, DSP (Agra City), said the incident was primarily a conspiracy hatched by the accused to protect Mr. Jhallu’s business.
(With inputs from Mayank Kumar)