‘What else do you expect when robbers strike?’

With rampant cases of cattle thefts and burglaries reported from Bahrola and the neighbouring villages along the Delhi-Agra Highway, residents said the August 3 incident was an accident waiting to happen.

Trying to justify the recent lynching of an alleged unidentified cattle thief in Bahrola village, a temple attendant said the residents constantly lived in fear of cattle thieves, who struck in groups.

“It is time for all the villagers to support the accused family. What else do you expect when robbers strike someone’s house?” said the attendant.

Frequent burglaries

A week before the August 3 incident, a gang had struck Jeet Ram’s house, located off the highway. The gang allegedly walked off with three buffaloes and a calf worth around Rs. 4 lakh.

Jeet’s mother Dharamwati said the family discovered the theft when they woke up in the morning. “Burglars had struck another house in the village barely a month ago, and decamped with cash and jewellery worth nearly Rs. 4 lakh. These criminals come armed with countrymade pistols, knives and bricks, all of which are kept in their vehicles. The villagers are too scared to confront them,” said Dharamwati.

Another resident Rajender Singh alleged that the failure of the police to curb rising crime in the area had left them with no other choice but to fend for themselves.

He recalled how a family in the village had caught a cattle thief six months ago and handed him over to the police but the accused was released within a few hours.

“The police have failed to crack a single case [of cattle theft],” he claimed, adding that thieves mostly struck during the monsoon as it was easier to hide in the fields.

Basanti (36), a neighbour of the family accused of lynching, said she had come to support them since it has become difficult for the villagers, especially the women, to step out of home as they feared being attacked by criminals.

Tigaon resident Rambir, who is a relative of the accused family, claimed the cattle thieves had been attempting to execute the theft over the few days.

He said dogs in Ramkishan’s (the accused), house had been barking constantly in the early hours for days before the incident, indicating suspicious activity.

Rambir said Ramkishan was the first to wake up on August 3, thanks to the barking dogs. “The thieves had already cut the mosquito net. One of them was caught while his accomplices managed to escape,” said Rambir.

It was after the deceased tried to hit one of the brothers on the head that they lost their cool and thrashed him.

“The intention was not to kill him. The family even gave him water to drink but he died a few minutes before the police reached the spot. Many villagers turned up before the police arrived and they too beat him up,” said Rambir.

Palwal Superintendent of Police Waseem Akram told
The Hindu
that cattle thieves mostly struck houses close to the road to escape easily. The thieves did not use mobile phones making it difficult to trace them.

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