Police in the western Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) registered a case against a Muslim man assaulted on Sunday by a group of 'cow vigilantes', NDTV reported.
According to reports, the victim, identified as Mohammed Shakir, was beaten up on Sunday afternoon in UP’s Moradabad district.
Footage of the incident showed Shakir surrounded by a group and a man named Manoj Thakur, who allegedly led the assault.
The video shows Thakur beating the victim with a stick until he collapsed to the ground. In a longer video of the incident, Shakir is restrained by the men as he pleads to be released.
While police have filed a case against the men who carried out the assault based on a complaint by the victim's brother. However, they have also filed a counter case - of their own volition - against the victim.
A senior police official - a Deputy Superintendent - posted in the area told NDTV Shakir had been arrested but not jailed as the charges against him are 'bailable'.
"The counter case lists charges relating to 'mischief by killing an animal', 'committing an act likely to spread infection', and 'violation of Covid lockdown guidelines'," the NDTV report said.
The victim's family also confirmed to the publication that Shakir was recovering at home.
In a statement, local police said the case was registered against the Muslim man because he had no receipt or document for the meat he was transporting, in addition to not having "permission to move around" during the lockdown.
The statement added that four people had been arrested while two others were on the run. It further stated that Thakur — the man who led the assault — had not yet been arrested.
"We received a video of a meat seller being beaten up and we have filed a case. There are five to six accused who have been named. We are carrying out searches and will arrest them soon," Prabhakar Chaudhary, the Moradabad police chief, said in a statement.
In a written complaint to the police, Shakir's brother said that the victim was intercepted by Thakur and his associates while carrying 50kg of buffalo meat on a scooter.
The FIR stated that the suspects demanded 50,000 Indian rupees and then assaulted the victim, before warning him against going to the police, the report said.
Meanwhile, Thakur issued a statement in his defence from an undisclosed location which was circulated to journalists in the district.
"We tried to stop this man but he hit us with his vehicle. Using two lathis (sticks) to hit a man is a crime but trying to kill someone isn't? I am trying to stop cow slaughter but the police are now threatening me. Let the administration give me a police team [...] I will expose this racket," he said.
The incident has triggered outrage and the local MP has demanded action.