As several mob lynching incidents pertaining to the trade and transport of cattle in various parts of the country are coming into light, the Maharashtra Police have asked their officials to ensure strict law and order in state and the cow vigilantes do not take law in their hands and harass meat traders or transporters here. As per a report by Indian Express, the state police department has sent a circular in this regards, the Mumbai Police recently issued an advisory to their 94 stations asking all officers to ensure that the beef ban legislation is not misused.
2 years back, the Maharashtra government had amended the provisions of the Animal Preservation Act, 2015 in order to make the sale and transport of beef illegal. Under this new law, anyone found selling or possessing beef can be rewarded with imprisonment of up to five years, along with a fine. Speaking about the same with Indian Express, a Home Department official said, “Generally, information pertaining to the ferrying of beef is shared by so-called cow vigilantes or gau rakshaks. These people expect that as soon as the information is shared, police would act and register a case under the beef ban legislation. Since it’s a topic that could flare into a communal situation, we have asked police units to deal with these cases sensitively.”
“Police should lodge a complaint under provisions of the local civic body law first, which allows for the prosecution of people who ferry any kind of illegal meat. Under the BMC Act, the meat has to be sent for testing first. We have asked units to invoke stringent sections of the newly amended legislation only when the forensic science lab confirms that the meat seized is beef,” the official added further.
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The circular issued by the DGP office directs police officers to make sure that the ‘gau rakshaks’ do not conduct any ‘suo motu raids’. It also mentioned that if anyone has any particular information about beef being ferried or bovines being butchered, the person should first inform this to the local police to conduct raids, if required.
The Home Department official also informed that “Policemen have been informed that if there is information on beef being transported in public vehicles, the raids shouldn’t cause inconvenience to fellow passengers.” On the similar lines, the Mumbai Police advisory informed that if any complaint of beef trading within the city is reported, a case should be filed under the new law only after a detailed investigation into the matter which includes sample being tested at the forensic science lab.