Holy cow! Man harassed by 'gau rakshak' over leather bag in Mumbai

Updated: Aug 23, 2016, 10:55 IST | Vinay Dalvi

Barun Kashyap has got a scary glimpse of the power that smug self-styled vigilantes wield in these times of turbulence. Auto driver grills him after assuming he was carrying a bag made of cow hide

Barun Kashyap has got a scary glimpse of the power that smug self-styled vigilantes wield in these times of turbulence. The 24-year-old creative director with media production house RM Picture, Andheri, was on Friday accosted by purported gau rakshaks for carrying a leather bag. He was allegedly let off with a warning only because of his Brahmin surname.

Barun Kashyap was harassed and threatened by an autorickshaw driver and two of his aides for carrying a leather bag
Barun Kashyap was harassed and threatened by an autorickshaw driver and two of his aides for carrying a leather bag

That morning, Kashyap boarded an autorickshaw at Infiniti Mall, Link Road, to get to his office on Veera Desai Road, Andheri. While on the way, the driver kept shooting him “strange” looks and began grilling him. “He saw my long hair and began asking lots of questions. He asked where I was from. When I told him Assam, he shot me a strange look and asked if my home was near Bangladesh,” said Kashyap.

Two aides join
The driver then pointed out that his bag “smelled”. “I told him that was because it had got wet. He then asked me why I was using a bag made of cow hide. I corrected him, saying it was camel leather and that the bag had been bought from Pushkar, Rajasthan,” said Kashyap.

The driver stopped near the Andheri RTO and summoned two friends sitting by a temple close by. “When I asked why he had stopped there, the driver said it would only be a minute before we would get on our way again,” said the youth.

The driver and his aides huddled for some time and spoke in Marathi, which Kashyap could not understand. “Then they inspected my bag. I put up a resistance, but they overpowered me. They then asked me my name.” On hearing his surname, the alleged cow vigilantes again began talking among themselves. All Kashyap could catch was the word ‘Brahmin’.

“The driver then dropped me on a nearby road. I jotted down the registration number, which were in Marathi. It was either 9627 or 9625,” said Kashyap. He asked the driver for his phone number, to which the cow vigilante retorted: “Abhi bach gaye ho, agali bar nahin bachoge. (You’ve escaped this time. You won’t be this lucky the next time.)”

After suggestions from some friends Kashyap then lodged a complaint at the DN Nagar police station under sections 504 (criminal intimidation) and 506 (intentional insult with the intent to breach of trust) of the IPC.

Cops not convinced
Dhanaji Nalawade, senior inspector of DN Nagar police station, raised suspicion over the veracity of Kashyap’s claim and said it looked like a “publicity stunt”. He said the case will be transferred to the Amboli police since the incident occurred under their jurisdiction.

Forced to take down post
Kashyap took to Facebook to vent his ire. He had to take down his post after receiving a barrage of “negative” comments. “I am afraid. I filed a complaint. But now I’m scared of facing its consequences,” he said.

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