The incident involving an armed attack on Gorakshaks and the murder of a Gorakshak in the Apparaopeth village of the Nanded district of Maharashtra has garnered significant attention. Following the incident, the police arrested four accused Muslim individuals in this case and placed them in custody. Currently, efforts are underway to locate the remaining accused in various states. Notably, reports suggest the alleged involvement of a prominent political leader from Himayatnagar in this matter.
Around midnight on June 19, near Apparao Peth village under Islapur police station in Kinwat taluka, the suspected Volero pickup vehicle came to a halt near a bridge at Malakjav Tanda. At that time, Gorakshak activists from Shivni, who had just returned from an event, intercepted the vehicle and proceeded to question its occupants. Subsequently, a group of approximately 10 to 12 individuals from the vehicle, along with some others, launched an attack on the cow protection activist. Tragically, Gorakshak activist Shekhar Rapelli lost his life in the incident, while six others sustained severe injuries.
During the search operation, the police arrested Sheikh Isaak Sheikh Chand (38), Sheikh Amer Sheikh Alim (30), Sheikh Mujahid Sheikh Isak (22) and Sheikh Mujemir Sheikh Fayaz (23). A Kinwat court sent the four to four-day custody on June 23.
The Gorakshak murder issue has taken a different turn with a debate. It is suspected that henchmen of a prominent political leader from Himayatnagar were involved in the case.
As per the Legal Rights Observatory (LRO), the accused persons are cow and gutkha smugglers and are members of the Sheikh Rafiq Mehboob gang. However, the same is yet to be confirmed by the authorities. Locals and activists told OpIndia that Sheikh Rafiq Mehboob has a huge hold on illegal gutkha trade in the city and around the Shivni area. He also is said to be associated with the PFI organization which has been banned by the Indian government.
The entire police force in Nanded is on the lookout for the accused and a team of police officers is camping in the neighbouring state of Telangana.
Cow protection has been painted as a ‘communal’ issue where Gorakshaks are depicted as rogue groups that attack ‘innocent’ Muslims transporting cows to slaughterhouses. Cattle are a source of livelihood for millions in rural India and are loved as their family members. Cows, especially, are also considered holy by Hindus and slaughtering them is considered to be a sin.
The government has imposed a ban on cow slaughter as per the Animal Welfare Act. In spite of this, numerous cows, bullocks, cattle, and other animals are smuggled across Telangana state at night in both large and small vehicles from the state of Maharashtra.