The Malegaon police on Saturday morning stumbled upon 450 kg meat, believed to be beef from at least 22 animals, in a pick-up van on the Mumbai-Agra Highway on Saturday morning and have sent it for lab tests to ascertain the source animal.
This comes a just a week after the Bombay High Court issued orders to the Maharashtra government to not take coercive action against anyone found in possession of beef for the next three months.
The police suspect it is not buffalo meat. They suspect that the beef looked fresh enough to be not from animals slaughtered before the ban on the slaughter of cows, bulls, and bullocks was imposed, and which was fished out from cold storage.
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They have sent the samples to the Kalina forensic lab in Mumbai to find which animals were slaughtered.
Sunil Kadasane, Additional Superintendent of Police, said, “I have gone through the latest High Court order. It states we cannot file a case against those who possess beef from legally slaughtered bulls and bullocks. In this case, we strongly believe the slaughter was illegal. Investigations are still on.”
“We could figure out that legs had brown skin. It cannot be that of a buffalo,” said investigating officer and assistant sub-inspector Harshal Kulkarni.
According to sources, the van was intercepted on Saturday morning on the Mumbai-Agra highway. A case under the amended Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995, has been filed against two persons from Malegaon, at Pawarwadi police station.
The police called a local veterinarian, Dr Javed Husain to inspect the meat. “I could ascertain that there were at least 22 necks. Apart from that, I found liver, lungs, leg and skull,” Husain said. Though no scientific procedure has yet been used to ascertain whether the beef was of an animal slaughtered before March 3, Husain said the “samples looked relatively fresh”. The ban was imposed on March 3.
The Bombay HC’s recent order stated that the “state and police authorities shall not invade the privacy of individuals to find out whether or not they are in possession of beef”, though it added that an FIR can be registered in case of an illegal slaughter.
Inspector Vijay Thakurwad of Pawarwadi police said, “It is not possible that beef remains so fresh even after so many weeks. The ban was announced two months ago.”
Police believe the animals were slaughtered outside the town that had 10 lakh population to avoid any police suspicion.
A Malegaon-based beef trader alleged, “The locals have been found with beef. They were not caught slaughtering any animal. Why should a case be filed? It is against the latest High Court order.”
A police source said filing a case was necessary to “avoid communal tension”.
Earlier, On March 26, a slaughtered bull was found in a shop in Malegaon, following which a case was registered against four locals.
Malegaon had over 40,000 traders engaged in slaughter of bulls, bullocks and buffaloes before the ban.