Volunteers of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) had to be rescued by the police from angry mob of Muslims when they tried to campaign against animal sacrifice during Bakrid near a mosque in old Bhopal on Monday.
Even before the Peta volunteers, who had assembled before Taj-ul-Masajid, one of the largest mosques in Asia, could begin their protest against kurbani and to promote vegetarianism, a group of angry Muslims from the locality raised objections saying it amounted to interfering in their religious practices.
The Peta activist, who was wearing a burqa adorned with green vegetables and a green head scarf and holding a placard “Make Id Happy for All: Try Vegan’’ was roughed up by protesters, including women, and chased before the police rescued her. Pelting stones and shouting slogans, the protesters tried to reach her even after the police had taken her some distance away.
A handful of policemen were present at the venue and the situation appeared to be going out of hands when bystanders joined the main group of protesters who were carrying their own placards with warnings against interfering in their religious affairs.
A top police officer told The Indian Express that three volunteers had been taken into custody for whipping up communal passions and were being produced before a court of law. “They should have selected a neutral place. They had to be rescued because they chose a wrong place,’’ he said and claimed that there was no attack on them and the police ensured they were not harmed.
While refusing to answer calls after the event, the Peta said in a statement that, “A friendly awareness programme had been planned in the hope that it would encourage residents of Bhopal to spare animal lives, protect their own health and protect the planet. Instead, she and her young female colleagues, were attacked by a growing mob of men, slapped, beaten and pelted with stones before the programme, for which they had permission, could even begin.’’
The organisation said the Bhopal police managed to rescue the women but several were hurt in the process, and Peta members sustained injuries, including facial, and had to be escorted to the hospital and given protection by the police.
“Too shaken up to immediately file an FIR, the women plan to do so after tending to their trauma and injuries,’’ the statement said.