AHEAD of Id-ul-Zuha (Bakrid), Maharashtra has directed police in the state to ensure gau rakshaks don’t carry out suo motu raids.
The circular, issued by the office of the Director General of Police, says if gau rakshaks have any information on beef being transported or bovines being butchered, the information should be conveyed to the local police station and the duty officer should conduct the raid.
The two-page circular has been issued to ensure that only goats (sacrificed during the festival) are transported and not bovines since transporting the latter is a crime in accordance with provisions of the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act , 2015.
The amendment to the law was carried out by the BJP-led state government on March 4, 2015. Under the law, anyone found selling beef or possessing it could be jailed up to five years, besides a fine.
“Sometimes the raids carried out by gau rakshaks seem to be motivated and cause a lot of inconvenience to the public at large. In the past, we received many complaints of high handedness by gau rakshaks who are self-proclaimed vigilantes. Therefore, a circular has been issued which lists the various dos and don’ts that police should follow ahead of Bakrid in connection with implementation of the provision of the newly amended law,” a senior official from the Maharashtra Home Department said.
Recently, a Bombay High Court-appointed committee to monitor animal welfare laws in the state decided to return all applications received under a “special drive” launched in May for honorary animal welfare officers “to serve as eyes to monitor the beef ban” enforced last year.
The 12-member committee, headed by Justice C S Dharmadhikari, a retired judge of the Bombay High Court, passed the order to cancel over 2,000 applications.
Other than ensuring that gau rakshaks don’t carry out suo motu raids, policemen have also been advised that while conducting raids, co-passengers shouldn’t be harassed. “Policemen have been informed that if there is information on beef being transported in public vehicles, then the raids should be such that they don’t cause inconvenience to fellow passengers. Also action against the carrier, source and recipient must be taken after the FSL report opines that the samples sent by them are positive in nature,” the official said.
Policemen have also been told that while conducting such checks, especially at toll booths or traffic junctions, vehicles suspected of carrying beef or bovines should be pulled over to the side of the road to avoid a traffic bottleneck.