NEW DELHI: Azmat and Pehlu Khan were in one vehicle carrying cows, calves and some milk they had purchased at a cattle fair in Jaipur. They were excited, having paid Rs 1000 to get the documents for each milch cow and were on their way back home in Mewat (Haryana), travelling on the Jaipur-Delhi highway.

At about 6.30pm men on five motorcycles crossed, and stopped them. And started beating them mercilessly with belts, bats, fists. Azmat remembers falling unconscious just before he saw Pehlu Khan lying on one side of the road. Their driver Arjun was told to ‘run away’ by the cow vigilantes.

A second vehicle with Pehlu Khan’s sons came by and was stopped. The three men in it were beaten mercilessly. Azmat in a slight moment of consciousness heard the attackers planning to take diesel out of the vehicle and set them ablaze. He became unconscious again. The police arrived after about 40 odd minutes, and although cases were filed against those who were beaten, took them to hospital.

Azmat regained consciousness in the early hours of the morning. He has sustained severe injuries. He remembers hostility in the private hospital they were taken to. Pehlu Khan died later with his relatives maintaining that he was not given treatment. Azmat’s brother Yusuf Khan came to know of the assault from others in Mewat who had passed the scene of the attack. “We went looking out for them” he told The Citizen,” and then found them in the hospital.” Worried about the medical treatment he has brought Azmat back to the village saying, “apart from the fractures he was hit badly on the head, he does not seem to be in complete control of his faculties.”

The assault was filmed by the assailants, as has become the norm these days. With complete impunity, the attackers take a film of the attack and post this on the social media to strike terror. This video is available as well. As is a BBC Hindi interview with the survivors including Azmat and the families.

Despite the proof Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi stood up in the Rajya Sabha this morning to say, "No such incident took place as described by opposition." This was after the Opposition members had raised the assault that left Pehlu Khan dead, with Naqvi maintaining, "We don't condone lawlessness. No message should go that we are justifying such incidents."

The Congress speaking of a "constitutional breakdown in the state" of Rajasthan attacked Naqvi for being “ill informed.”

The attackers, although in full video view, were not arrested immediately and the police went on to file cases of smuggling cows against the victims. Some men have reportedly been arrested after the attack received wide condemnation.And after Khan died, and the video of the attack went viral.

Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria said both sides were to blame, and described the deadly assault as "manhandling".

"Smuggling of cows is a crime in Rajasthan, which is why a case has been filed against them. We have filed a case against the other party too, for manhandling those transporting cows," Mr Kataria said in an interview to NDTV.

The minister further stated, "The law prohibits transporting cows for slaughter purposes. Which is why the general public is outraged with such incidents. Police stops these vehicles carrying cows and send the cow to gau-shalas (cow sheds). But no one can take the law into their hands, we have filed cases against both parties and will take action.”

Azmat said that first the men on the bikes took away all their money, and then with others from the “public” started beating them mercilessly. Relatives said that they were charged far more than the rates by the hospital administration as well, and not treated well.