Three buffalo meat processing plants belonging to a former BSP MP’s family and four rendering units were sealed in Meerut on Wednesday with samples seized and forwarded for forensic examination to check whether they contained cow meat, district officials said.
“As a precautionary measure, meat samples weighing around 100-200 grams were collected from the three meat processing plants. In the case of rendering plants, samples of raw bone, etc., were collected. They have been given to police to be sent to forensic labs in Mathura and Agra for tests,” said Harpal Singh, Chief Veterinary Officer, Meerut.
According to Singh, the samples were collected “to ascertain the source of frozen meat”. “In the case of frozen meat, it is difficult to ascertain without chemical analysis if the meat belongs to a buffalo or cow. The colour, consistency and texture changes,” he said.
The three processing units were sealed after a “surprise inspection round” conducted by officials from various departments and police, said officials. The units belong to former BSP MP Shahid Akhlaq’s family, officials confirmed. These include Al Yasir Export Private Limited and Al Aqsa Frozen Foods Private Limited, owned by the MP’s brothers Rashid Akhlaq and Sajid Akhlaq, respectively — and Al Kaif Industries Private Limited, owned by his brother-in-law Haji Pervez.
According to police, these units had approvals from the Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), which comes under the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, but were found to be flouting the licence terms.
The four meat rendering plants sealed included two units of Universal India Private Limited, and one each of Vet Feed India Private Limited and Best Agro Feed Private Limited. All these units functioned under the Kharkhauda police station area of Meerut.
Police said that an FIR under IPC sections 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and Section 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) has be registered in the case.
“The samples will be sent to forensic science laboratories for examination. If their reports find that the meat belongs to a cow or its progeny, a case under sections of the UP Cow Slaughter Act will be registered,” said Manish Saxena, SHO, Kharkhauda station.
While police alleged negligence by the units on quality, and licence terms not being followed, the owners expressed concern about the action.
“We have all necessary approvals from the departments for running the plant and all conditions are being followed. We were told that the construction plan of the unit did not have approval from Meerut Development Authority (MDA). Our unit has been functioning for nearly 14 years and our family has been in this business for 40 years. We have never faced any problems or received notices. We have assured the administration that we will get the plan approved by MDA. Till then, our plant has been sealed,” said Sajid Akhlaq, owner of Al Aqsa Industries Private Limited.
Umar Daraz, owner of Universal India Private Limited, one of the sealed rendering plants, said he will approach the court on the matter. “We were told that we do not have MDA approval. We had submitted the site plan to MDA at least six years ago. We did not receive any response and our plant had been functioning without trouble till today. If there was a problem with the plant, what was the administration doing till now? We are going to take up the matter in court,” Daraz said.
S Subberwal, secretary general, All India Buffalo Meat Exporters Association, said the last two months have seen the industry facing a loss of around Rs 4,000 crore.
“This loss has been suffered by this industry which generates Rs 22,000 crore due to the uncertainty among exporters. During elections, there was talk about closing down of abattoirs. However, the manifesto had said that illegal ones will be closed down. There has been fear among exporters due to which they have not been taking orders for the last two months,” he said.
Veterinary chief Harpal Singh said that no new licences had been issued by his department to slaughterhouses and meat processing units since June 2013. “Apart from APEDA, these plants need approvals from 11 departments, which include the municipal body, pollution control board, industries, fire and electricity departments, as well as the veterinary department. I can confirm that since June 2013, when I was posted in Meerut, no new licences have been issued,” he said.