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A middle-aged man was on Sunday morning burned to death by residents of Stoo Makaa in Bahati, Nakuru County, over allegations of robbery.

According to the locals, the man is suspected to be among a group of thugs who escaped an operation led by motorcycle taxi operators to weed out members of the ‘Confirmed’ gang, which is linked to a string of robberies in the area.

Bahati Police Commander Mwangi Ng’ang’a told Citizen Digital they met with the taxi operators and appealed to them to help identify any criminals posing as motorcycle riders

Meanwhile, in India mob lynching under the pretext of protecting cows continues.

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The conviction rate in such cases also remains low, according to a study published in 2020 by the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism. “The victims and their families are intimidated to not pursue legal course,” the report said.

“The disturbing trend is that the victims themselves are slapped with charges under different sections of laws to criminalise them and act as a justification for the violence. Thus, there is double victimisation of the victim and a prolonged legal battle which is unevenly stacked against them. This delayed or in most cases denied justice emboldens the vigilantes to mount relentless attacks without fear of law or prosecution, putting the victims in a vulnerable position.”

Even when the cow vigilantes are arrested, critics believe, they are foot soldiers rather than masterminds. Shah fears the case of Ansari and Hussain is heading in the same direction.

“When I spoke to Hussain, he categorically mentioned the name of Shiv Shankar Swami that he overheard among the cow vigilantes,” he said. “They mentioned him while beating the boys up.”

An internet search of his name throws up several news reports of cow vigilantism in Maharashtra dating between 2015 and 2017.

Maruti Borhade, a police officer in Ghoti, told Al Jazeera the investigations are continuing and the police are searching for more men. “They haven’t said anything yet,” he said. “We are still interrogating them.”

Shah, however, believes that cow vigilantes are able to operate so swiftly because of state protection as well as support from society. Their network stems from the toll booths, where vehicles slow down and their informants can get a good look inside, he said.

“My drivers always travel with every necessary document but it doesn’t matter because the main objective is to harass and hound Muslims,” he told Al Jazeera, as he took out his mobile phone.

“A driver is coming from Nashik as we speak. He has WhatsApped me a video of a car that he thinks is following his truck. The cow vigilantes have made us all paranoid.”

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