In yet another case that shows how brazen the cattle-theft mafia seems to be increasingly getting, a gang of masked men abducted a woman from the house in which they had broken into for stealing cattle.
The woman managed to free herself from the thieves, who dropped her on the road around two kilometres from her house.
The incident happened on the intervening night of 17 and 18 March, in Samanpura village of Haldharpur Thana area of Uttar Pradesh’s Mau district, which is near Varanasi.
A first information report (FIR) has been registered based on the woman’s statement against one identified and a few other unidentified men.
Mau Superintendent of Police (SP) Anurag Arya told Swarajya over the phone that the named accused has been arrested and is being questioned. Arya, however, declined to share the accused’s name or even the IPC sections under which the accused has been booked.
Arya said the accused belongs to the same village as the survivor, and the gang committed the crime after the woman “resisted” theft of her cattle.
According to the survivor, she woke up at around 2 am to drink water when “four-five” men “whose faces were covered with black cloth” forcibly pushed her inside their pick-up van.
“They covered my mouth with their hands and forced me into their vehicle. I saw them pushing our cow inside the vehicle as well,” she said.
The woman’s father-in-law Lakhichand Yadav said that the family learnt about the kidnapping at around 4 am.
“I got up and went out, and was shocked to see bangles and slippers lying around. We immediately went out in search of her and informed the police,” he said.
SP Arya said that the police were informed at around 7:30 am. The cops found the woman some 2 km away and brought her back in their vehicle.
Dainik Jagran quoted the woman as saying that some thieves had targeted her house on 2 March as well, and escaped with a buffalo. She told the newspaper that had the police acted in that case, the latest crime would not have happened.
A report in The Times of India says that the woman has said in her complaint that the kidnappers injected some medicine in her body after which she fell unconscious.
This is not the first time in UP that cattle thieves have targetted women.
In August, a gang of cattle thieves abducted a 10-year-old girl from the house where they had gone for theft, and gangraped her. The incident took place in Awagadh area near Etah district of UP. According to the police, the thieves kidnapped the girl after they were unsuccessful in their theft.
Three accused – Arif Khan, Israr and Kalua Khan – were later arrested for the crime and booked under IPC section 376D (gangrape) and 363 (kidnapping) and under the POCSO Act.
Earlier, in December 2018, armed cattle thieves attempted to kidnap a 17-year-old girl from a village in Machhiwara Shahar Thana area of Jaunpur district. As per an Amar Ujala report, the thieves dropped the teenager from their vehicle when villagers retaliated with stones and rods.
In January 2018, the Dehradoon police arrested five men for kidnapping a woman and sexual harassing another woman that month. The police told the media that time that the five accused – Raees, Shavez, Naseem, Aijaz and Farman – all hailing from UP’s Saharanpur district were primarily cattle thieves.
The main accused Raees was a history-sheeter from Saharanpur with over 15 cases registered against him in UP including those of cattle smuggling.
Earlier, Swarajya compiled a list of murders by cattle thieves. Between Janaury 2018 and August 2019, at least 22 such murders took place, as per various media reports and accounts of victim families.
(Vivek Kumar Singh, who runs a news website in Mau, helped with the reporting)
Swati Goel Sharma is a senior editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @swati_gs.
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