The alleged attack left the cattle traders bleeding from their noses and foreheads.

The three men in the truck, who have been identified as Rizwan (25), Ashu (28) and Kamil (25), were travelling from their village of Pataudi Haryana’s Gurgaon district to Ghazipur mandi in East Delhi. Rizwan was driving the truck. They were followed by friends in three other vehicles.

Latif and his cousin Anees were in one car, behind the truck. Zahid and an unidentified relative were in another, while a third vehicle was occupied by Bijender Kumar and Mohammad Ashfak. Except for Kumar and Ashfak, who had been in Delhi for sometime to attend a wedding, the others were travelling from Pataudi.

When the cow vigilantes intercepted the truck and started assaulting its occupants, the cattle traders behind them decided not to intervene, fearing that they would be attacked too.

At one point, the crowd became very aggressive,” said Anees. “We were so scared that we fled the spot and parked the car around 200 metres away from where we could still get a glimpse of what was happening.”

Latif and Anees later followed the police van in which their injured friends were taken to AIIMS Trauma Centre. Kumar and Ashfak chose to take a rather long diversion.

All the witnesses have maintained that Rizwan, Ashu and Kamil were assaulted by a group of men alleging that they were transporting cows for slaughter.