A day after a 21-year-old alleged cattle smuggler was killed in Meerut district in what police said was an encounter, police said it was the culmination of a 30-minute chase during which they were allegedly pelted with stones and shot at.
Police claimed a pick-up truck evaded a police search team in Sardhana and was intercepted by a van from Saroorpur police station after a 30-minute chase, during which the police was allegedly pelted with stones. In the alleged crossfire that occurred at around 3.15 in the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday, only one bullet was fired by police which hit Mohammad Irshaad in his head, according to Sardhana police station SO Prashant Kapil.
“The firing was initiated by the group in the pick-up after it halted. Sub Inspector Om Prakash Arya fired one shot after he was injured in the arm. Irshaad’s accomplices jumped out of the vehicle and ran into the sugarcane fields along the road. We found two .315 bore country-made revolvers, four empty cartridges, three live rounds and a sack of stones in the truck,” said Kapil, adding that it cannot be confirmed whether Arya’s right arm was grazed by a bullet or something else.
However, at Irshaad’s village in Nangla Riawali in Muzaffarnagar, family and fellow villagers cried foul. “We own five bighas of land where we grow wheat and sugarcane… Irshaad … had nothing to do with cattle trade. He was the only person working on our fields with me. At 10 pm, villagers saw him sitting in the tea shop near our house after which he left for our field on the Meerut-Muzaffarnagar border to draw water as power supply resumed. He must have been picked up by police from the field,” claimed his father Mohammad Dilshaad (50).
According to Kapil, police found four full-grown bulls tranquilised with cuts on their legs packed into the vehicle’s trolley on which four-five men, including Irshaad, were standing while firing at them.
An FIR was filed at Saroorpur police station, charging Irshaad and five-six unidentified others with attempt to murder, animal cruelty, cow slaughter, rioting and assaulting a public servant.
Saroorpur SO Ravindra Singh Kamboj said they are trying to find out the owner of the vehicle which had a Haryana commercial number.
Police also said that they do not know the starting point or the destination of the “smuggling exercise” yet.
In Nangla Riawali, residents said that no men, who could have been the accomplices, or bulls are missing from the village.