ALIGARH: Gau rakshaks struck again near Khair town in Uttar Pradesh yesterday. This time the driver of a mini truck had a providential escape when dozens of youths wearing saffron mufflers forced his vehicle to stop on the main Aligarh Tappal state highway after they spotted cattle in his vehicle. Without waiting for explanations they beat him mercilessly.

According to bystanders they would have done him to death had not some Home Guards accompanying the vehicle managed to intervene and convince the mob that the driver was on “official duty" transporting the stray animals from a temporary refuge to a government maintained cow shelter near Tappal.

For several hours traffic was held up on the highway while the stone pelting gau rakshaks went on a rampage.

A police party led by a deputy superintendent, virtually with folded hands tried to convince the raging mob that the hapless bovines were being taken to a proper shelter instead of allowing them to meet a slow death on the roads but they refused to relent baying for the blood of the cowering driver. In the melee that followed the cows panicked leading to a stampede. At least one cow and possibly more died in the chaos but the exact number could not be confirmed amidst conflicting reports. SP Rural Mohan Lal Patidar told this writer that one cow was killed in the stampede as it fell down and was crushed by the fleeing cattle.

According to thhe Khair Police Circle Officer, Anuj Kumar Choudhry the 650 cows had been given temporary shelter in a government hospital at Gorai village under police station Iglas. This move had been prompted when hundreds of farmers whose crops were being destroyed by these stray cattle decided to take the initiative themselves and shepherded the starving animals to the hospital. This was done with the cooperation of the village pradhan and local police and the naib tehseeldar Manish Kumar Singh. Several trucks were hired and the district authorities were alerted about the calvacade. The mini truck that was attacked was part of this effort.

Despite all these precautions and the prompt arrival of a small police party the mob vented their fury on the trucks. Only after a large police force cane charged the mob that the stone pelters dispersed .

SSP Aligarh Ajay Kumar Sahni who rushed to Khair told newspersons that the attackers did not belong to any political group " but were anti social elements who wanted to disturb the peace". He said four persons have been arrested and more arrests are likely after duly identifying those were involved. The police is also trying to trace the culprit(s) who posted the fake news on the social media that brought the mob together.

After the gross indifference shown in handling the murder of their own colleague in Bulandshshar whatever remains of the credibility of the UP police is going to be severely tested.