Two persons have been arrested after they allegedly held up a Nagpada-based meat trader, who was carrying 500 kg of buffalo meat, near Vashi toll plaza on Tuesday night. The trader, Parvez Haneef Qureshi (49), claimed he suffered losses of Rs 15,000-20,000 after the ice in his tempo that would have prevented the meat from rotting had melted during the argument that ensued between them.
Two of the five accused — Gulab Gupta (42) and Kishore Patil (43), both residents of Dombivli — were arrested on Tuesday night. They were sent to judicial custody on Wednesday. The other three accused — identified as Suresh Mahawat, Poornima Kharat and Suchita Harpade, all Pune residents —would be arrested soon, police said.
Qureshi said five persons, who claimed to be journalists, had stopped his tempo near Vashi toll plaza on Tuesday night, alleging that he was transporting beef. In spite of producing the relevant paperwork that confirmed the meat in his tempo was buffalo meat and he had the necessary permission to transport it, the five kept threatening to call the police, he said.
Eventually, they went to the Vashi police, which registered a case against the five persons. However, the trader claimed, 70-80 kg of the meat had rotten by the time he could leave from the police station at 2 am. “I suffered a loss of Rs 15,000-20,000, a big amount for me. By the time I reached home, some of the meat had rotten since quite a bit of ice had melted. This is in spite of the fact that I had all the valid paperwork to show that it was buffalo meat,” Qureshi told The Indian Express. He added, “Eventually, it was proved that the meat I was carrying was buffalo meat. But I had to suffer financial losses for no fault of mine,” he said.
As per Vashi police, the incident took place around 7.30 pm Tuesday when Qureshi, along with a helper, were transporting buffalo meat from Deonar abattoir to a Mafco cold storage facility in Navi Mumbai. As the tempo crossed Vashi toll plaza, Qureshi said he saw five persons — three men and two women — with two cars standing outside a puncture repair shop ahead of the toll plaza. “As soon as I crossed them, they started following me. After trailing me for a distance, they got ahead of me at the Vashi gaon signal and stopped their car,” Qureshi said.
He added, “They started telling me that they had information I was carrying cow meat and hence they wanted to check my vehicle. They said they were journalists and would report me to the police. I told them there was some misunderstanding as I was carrying buffalo meat and had the receipt to prove it.” After they checked the receipt, they told him that the receipt did not mean a thing as there were hundreds of such receipts around.
“After some time, we all went to the nearby Vashi police station,” he said. Vashi senior police inspector Ajaykumar Landge said, “ After the two parties came to the police station, we called a veterinary doctor attached with the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation, who checked the meat and confirmed it was buffalo meat.”
Landge added they questioned the five people on what authority they had demanded a receipt of the meat carried by Qureshi. “Normally, if anyone has such information, they have to inform the police or a government authority. No one can unilaterally carry out searches. They also forced the driver to come to the police station. Hence, an FIR was registered against the five for unlawful assembly and illegal detention,” Landge said.
He added, “The five accused knew each other since they all work at a local newspaper called Daksh Police Times registered at Kandivli. We have called the editor of the newspaper.”