The Bombay High Court Monday asked the state police to inform them about the preventive measures taken by them relating to cow vigilante groups ahead of Bakrid, which will take place next month. A division bench of Justices B R Gavai and M S Karnik were hearing a matter seeking action against “self-proclaimed gau rakshaks” in the state. The petition had raised apprehension that these cow vigilante groups could especially cause trouble during the Bakrid.
“Maintenance of law and order is the responsibility of the police. We clarify that we are not going to frame any guidelines on how the issue needs to be handled. We only want law and order to be maintained. Tell us what preventive steps you (police) will take to monitor the situation,” Justice Gavai said. Appearing for the petitioner, advocate Waris Pathan who is also an AIMIM MLA, informed the court that they wanted some guidelines to be formulated in this matter especially considering the fact that cattle would be brought into the state from various points which might lead to action by cow vigilante groups. “We want some guidelines to be formulated so that sacrifice takes place peacefully on Bakrid,” he said.
He further added that this had become an issue throughout the country and the safety of citizens needed to be ensured in such a scenario. Additional public prosecutor Jayesh Yagnik informed the court that in Mumbai, there are five registered ‘sansthas’ (organisations) of ‘Gau Rakshaks’ (cow vigilantes).
“The city police have details of these five sansthas,” he said adding that there had been no such incident in Mumbai. Yagnik said there was a 24-hour helpline service of the city police set up to tackle any untoward incidents. Meanwhile, several persons, including petitioner Shadab Patel’s father, sought to intervene in the matter claiming that the PIL was “malafide and was merely a political and publicity stunt” and should hence be dismissed.
The court said it would hear the case further on August 23. The petition seeks directions to the state to take steps to protect citizens, especially those who deal in trade and transport of cattle, from ‘lynch mobs’. The petition claimed that since 2014, around 24 persons had been killed allegedly by cow vigilantes across India.
“The cow vigilantes groups and sanghatnas are taking law in their own hands and immediate action should be taken against them. They are a threat as they cause disturbance or riot-like situation in the name of meat,” added the petition. The matter has been kept for further hearing in two weeks.