NEW DELHI : Prime Minister Narendra Modi had not finished underplaying growing incidence of hate speech by his supporters in a TV interview on Monday when a video surfaced of two bruised and battered Muslim men being forced to eat cow dung.

The Indian Express said on Tuesday that the video shows volunteers of the Gau Rakshak Dal (Cow Protection Group) forcing two men, who they suspected were beef transporters, to eat a concoction of cow dung, cow urine, milk, curd and ghee near Delhi recently.

Modi blamed the media in his TV comments for carrying reports of hate speech and communal incidents. He said the media made heroes of the communal propagandists. The surfacing of the video of a two-week old incident belies the claim because without the media’s help no one would know what really transpired with the two men.

Admitting that they had forced the two men — Rizwan and Mukhtiar — to eat “panchgavya” (cow dung concoction) on June 10, Dharmendra Yadav, president of the Gurgaon Gau Rakshak Dal, said volunteers, acting on a tip-off, intercepted a vehicle transporting 700kg of beef from Mewat to Delhi.

“We had to chase the car for 7km before we finally managed to stop them near the Badarpur border,” The Indian Express quoted Yadav as saying. He had no idea who shot the video.

“When we caught them, they had 700kg of beef in their car. We made them eat the panchgavya to teach them a lesson and also to purify them,” Yadav said.

The volunteers can be heard prompting the captives to say “Gau Mata Ki Jai” and “Jai Shri Ram”, both of which the duo say as they struggle to swallow the mixture, The Indian Express reported.

Modi has kept silent over the lynching of a Muslim blacksmith near Delhi over claims his family ate beef. Hindu extremists are now hoping to make this an election plank in Uttar Pradesh where polls are due next year.

Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2016