NEW DELHI: The two men, arrested for allegedly attacking JNU student leader Umar Khalid, claimed on Monday they were cow vigilantes who had come to disrupt the event that was underway at Constitution Club in Delhi to draw attention towards protection of cows, police said.
Darwesh Shahpur and Naveen Dalal were detained by police in the early hours of Monday from Fatehabad in Hisar, Haryana, they said, adding the two were later arrested.
During interrogation, they told police that they had planned to disrupt the event 'Khauff se Azaadi' (Freedom from Fear) that was being held at Constitution Club on August 13, where activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan and Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha were present as speakers.
When Dalal reached the Constitution Club, he found Khalid outside the venue and attacked him.
Dalal claimed he did not fire from the weapon he was carrying and it fell down while he was fleeing the spot.
However, police are probing Khalid's allegations about the weapon being pointed towards him. According to police, Shahpur was also present at the spot, but did not attack Khalid.
After the attack, they both fled separately. One of them took a bus and then a metro.
The two men told police they wanted to draw attention towards the issue of cow protection and thought targeting the event would highlight their cause, police said.
A team of the Delhi Police's Special Cell had visited the village of Sikh revolutionary Kartar Singh Sarabha, where the two had said they would surrender on August 17 but they did not turn up since they developed cold feet.
In a video uploaded on Facebook on August 15, they claimed the attack on Khalid was supposed to be an "Independence Day gift" to citizens.
"We respect our Constitution. But there is no provision in our Constitution to punish mad dogs.
By mad dogs, we mean the JNU gang that is making the country weaker and their number is increasing.
Our elders in Haryana have taught us that such people should be taught a lesson," Shahpur had said in the video message.
They had also requested the police not to trouble anyone and said they would surrender in Sarabha village.
Khalid was attacked when he was on his way to take part at the event. He escaped unhurt.
On Tuesday, the Delhi Police handed over the case to its Special Cell, which incidentally is already probing a sedition case against Khalid and two other JNU students.
The police had also said they were not "intimated" about Monday's event attended by Khalid.
A police officer, privy to the probe, said the police had seized the weapon used in the crime and preliminary forensic examination suggested that the pistol had jammed when it was used against Khalid.
He said they were yet to ascertain whether shots were fired as no empty cartridge was found at the spot.
A case of attempt to murder was registered by the police in connection with the incident.