A section of municipal staff allegedly colluded with racketeers involved in supplying dead animal meat to restaurants in Kolkata, investigators have found. The staff would allegedly tip the racketeers off about dead animals in dump yards around Kolkata. The meat was processed with chemicals like formalin and aluminium sulphate to preserve it. It was then packaged and kept in cold storage before it was supplied.
“We have arrested the kingpin who operated the organised crime. The network picked up dead animals from dump yards and, after processing them with certain chemicals, sent the meat to markets and restaurants,’’ said police superintendent Koteshwar Rao, who is spearheading the investigations into the racket. “Arrests have been made in Kolkata and other districts. We have also made an arrest from Nawada in Bihar.”
Rao said they have sent the meat samples to laboratories and were awaiting the results. “We are probing all angles… where the meat was supplied in the state and whether it was supplied out of the state and in what quantity.”
The racket was busted when two people were arrested after residents of Budge Budge, about 30 km from Kolkata, stopped a taxi carrying dead animals from a dump yard. They told the investigators about the racket, leading to the seizure of 1,000 packets of processed dead animal meat, each weighing 20 kg, from a cold storage in Rajabazar.
Ten more men, including former councillor Manik Mukhopadhyay, were arrested in connection with the racket. Sunny Mullick, the alleged kingpin, was arrested from Bihar on April 25.
Investigators say Rs 50 to 100 was paid to municipal staffers for information on dead animals in dump yards.
“The meat was supplied to different people ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 280 a kg. They would tell restaurant owners that they are wholesalers of frozen meat,’’ said an investigator.
Mayor-in-Council (health) Atin Ghosh said they have been conducting surprise raids at hotels, restaurants and eateries to collect the meat samples.
Restaurant owners said the footfall has gone down since the racket has been busted. “People are now preferring more prawn and fish dishes along with vegetarian dishes…,” said Sudesh Poddar, president of Hotel and Restaurant Association of Eastern India. He said they have sent advisory asking restaurant owners to source meat only from reputed suppliers.
The health department has issued notices to hospitals asking them to ensure quality meat was being supplied to them.
The consumer affairs department is preparing a report to be submitted to chief minister Mamata Banerjee.