Petition Against Maharashtra’s Cow Vigilantes: Bombay High Court
Shadab Patel, a Bandra based businessman has, on Monday filed a PIL before Bombay high court, seeking action by the Court against “self-proclaimed gau rakshaks“ in Maharashtra.
Expressing a grave apprehension that these self-styled cow vigilante groups could stir up trouble during the upcoming Bakri Eid festival, Shadab Patel has urged the court to direct the state to take effective steps to protect citizens, especially those who deal in trade and transport of cattle, from lynch mobs. The anxiety in Maharashtra has grown given the fact just a few days back, a Muslim, and a BJP worker was brutally beaten up in Nagpur after allegations of carrying beef. In a stark example of vigilantes taking law into their own hands and committing the crime of assault, PTI reports that after the assault, the man himself was arrested as ‘it was proven and tested that he was carrying beef,’
“The cow vigilantes groups and sanghatnas are taking law in their own hands and immediate action should be taken against them. They are a threat as they cause disturbance or riot-like situation in the name of beef,“ said Patel in the petition filed through his lawyer, Asif Naqvi.“The citizens have a right to life and right to carry out business and trade, guaranteed by the Constitution of India. It cannot be be violated by such cow vigilantes, whose main aim is to create a sense of fear in the minds of people,“ said the petitioner.
The petition claimed that since 2014, around 24 persons had been killed allegedly by cow vigilantes across India. It listed various incidents from the killing of Mohammed Akhlaq, to Pehlu Khan, Junaid Khan and the most recent attack on a man last month in Nagpur.
“The state and Centre have miserably failed to curb such attacks, hence it is necessary for the court to make guidelines for preventive and safety measures,“ said the petitioner. The PIL has asked the court to direct the state to set up a 24-hour helpline to “keep a check on illegal acts by cow vigilantes moving around freely in the name of cow protection in large groups“. The state should also ask each police station to maintain a list of such vigilante groups in their areas and submit a report to court on action taken against them. The petitioner said the state should provide 24-hour security to traders when transporting livestock. He sought implementation of a Supreme Court order suspending the Union government’s notification banning sale and purchase of cattle at animal markets for slaughter.“If the state cannot provide safety to citizens who deal in cattle trade and transport, they should be provided gun licences to save their lives,“ added the petition. The PIL is likely to be heard later this week.
In the Nagpur incident, newspaper PTI reported that the Nagpur Rural Police have arrested Salim Shaha, a BJP worker who was allegedly beaten up by cow vigilantes earlier this week, under the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act for possession of beef.
Shaha was beaten up by some people on July 12 on the suspicion that he was carrying beef. Police had said on Sunday that as per the forensic laboratory report, the meat which he was carrying that day was beef. Superintendent of police (Nagpur Rural) Shailesh Balkawde told PTI today that Shaha was arrested last night, and produced before Narkhed magistrate’s court in the district today which sent him in police custody for one day.
Police will ask for extension of his custody tomorrow, the SP said, adding that a case has been registered at Jalalkheda Police Station. Shaha (34), a resident of Katol town in Nagpur district, was returning home on his motorcycle when a group of five or six men accosted him at a bus stop in the Bharsingi village on July 12. They allegedly assaulted him on the suspicion that he was carrying beef. Shaha’s family, however, said he may not have known what he was carrying. The family was initially reluctant to talk about the forensic report, stating that it was already “in trouble”.
But “Salim may not have been aware of what he was carrying,” a relative said. The Nagpur (rural) unit president of the BJP, Rajiv Potdar, had said Shaha would be dismissed from the party.After Shaha was beaten up and taken to a hospital, four men–Ashwin Uike (35), Rameshwar Taywade (42), Moreshwar Tandurkar (36) and Jagdish Chaudhari (25)–were arrested and booked under charge of voluntarily causing grievous hurt.