Tensions have reached new heights in Rajasthan’s Ghatmika village after the state Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot visited family members of victims Junaid and Nasir on Thursday.

The duo were allegedly abducted by two groups of cow vigilantes from Haryana on February 15. The victim’s charred bodies were found in a burnt Bolero jeep in Bhiwani the next day.

On Thursday, after much pressure from the Opposition and civil society, the Chief Minister decided to visit the family. A tent was set up near Junaid and Nasir’s home where the family was made to sit along with a few elderly people from the village.

The whole village was barricaded and there was heavy police presence. The residents were forced to close their shops and stop all the work. Speaking to The Citizen, Anwar, who has a farm, said that they were forced to be at their homes and not allowed to go anywhere. “Not that we are expecting much out of this visit, but they have not allowed any villager to also meet the minister. Why set up a huge tent for Gehlot and shut all the residents inside their home? This is nothing but a charade,” he said.

As Gehlot sat down with the family members and the elderly, he assured them of strict action. “We have demanded immediate arrest of the perpetrators and he has assured us in the presence of the highest police officials that action will be taken. We are hopeful that the accused will be arrested soon,” Mubin Ahmad, an elderly of the village, who was also part of the committee that met Gehlot, told The Citizen.

Later, the CM addressed the media saying that he had spoken to the family but blamed the Haryana Police for not taking appropriate action on time.

“This is a huge incident that has taken place. I am in touch with the police officials. I had also spoken to Haryana Chief Minister, who has also assured me but even after so many days the perpetrators have not been caught,” he said.

He appealed to the Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to take the case seriously. He also said that democracy and the Constitution is also in danger.

“In Hathras' case we are seeing the accused are being acquitted, but this is not the place to discuss these things. The country is not seeing good times,” he added.

With anger among the victim’s family on the swift action taken in the Udaipur murder of Kanhaiya Lal, Gehlot said not to compare the two cases. “That was a terror incident, although we should also see this act seriously and we will take strict action, making sure that the accused are hanged,” he said.

The CM also announced ₹5 lakh each for the wives and children of the victims. “I saw that there are six children of Junaid and Nasir has one adopted child. I have decided that each (children and wives) will be given a fixed deposit of ₹4 lakh, and ₹1 lakh cash, so that when they grow up, it will help in studies and marriage. The government will take care of the family members,” he added.

However, as soon as Gehlot’s helicopter left the premises and news spread to the village, tensions grew as angry villagers seemed dissatisfied.

“We were not expecting much, but this is outrageous. What is money worth? They are not coming back, but it is shameful that the government could not think more for the family,” Javed, a resident of the village, told The Citizen.

At the village’s Eidgah, where many had gathered in solidarity with the victim’s family and where the sit-in protest was taking place, the crowd went haywire.

“This is outrageous. The chief minister has left us with empty promises it seems and there is no point in believing them. We will continue the protest,” a resident shouted from the microphone.

It was also announced that a “mahapanchayat” will be taking place as no results seem to have come from Gehlot’s visit. “This will not be limited to just us, but we want minorities from other villages to join this mahapanchayat,” an elderly said at the Eidgah.

The family and villagers are demanding government jobs and arrest of accused Monu Manesar in the matter. Speaking to The Citizen, Bano, a neighbour of Junaid said that they only want the arrest of Monu Manesar. “He is a monster and we want him arrested,” she said.

At Nasir’s home, his wife Farmina is helplessly holding herself together as tears run down her face. “I only want my husband’s accused to be hanged to death. They killed my husband so brutally,” she said hysterically crying as the women tried to console her.

Meanwhile, Nasir’s eldest sister Sarda Begum had no clue what happened at the meeting with Gehlot as only Junaid and Nasir’s brothers and children went to meet him.

“No one was allowed to leave their homes before and during the visit and we have no clue what has happened,” she said.

Meanwhile, late Thursday three social activists from the village were arrested as they refused to stop the protest. Wasim Akram, a well-known social activist and journalist was arrested where the police sources have said that he will be released in the morning.

Meanwhile, internet connection continued to be suspended in the village including three other tehsil on the fourth day.

The charred bodies of two cousins, Junaid, 35, and Nasir, 27, both residents of Ghatmika village, were found inside a vehicle in Haryana’s Bhiwani district on February 16. The families of the deceased said they were beaten and murdered by members of the Bajrang Dal – a claim rejected by the outfit.

In the last few years, the country has witnessed brutal killings in the name of cow protection, allegedly organised by right-wing groups.

No separate data on people killed or injured by vigilante groups, mobs or crowds is maintained by the NCRB, Rajya Sabha was informed on December 15, 2021.

“National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) publishes crime data received from all the states/union territories under various crime heads defined under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and special and local laws. No separate data on persons killed or injured by vigilante groups or mobs or crowds is maintained by the NCRB,” Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai said.