Chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday ordered a ban on cow smuggling and asked police for a plan to close down illegal slaughterhouses in Uttar Pradesh, where a “cow thief” was lynched, three shops burnt and several meat units sealed.
Adityanath’s BJP, voted to power in the state recently with a brute majority, had promised to close illegal and mechanised abattoirs.
The chief minster’s website was running an opinion poll, seeking views on cow slaughter, a cause close to the 44-year-old head priest of the Gorakhnath mutt.
The mutt has a cow shelter with some 500 animals and Adityanath, before he was named the chief minister, spent a part of his mornings there, feeding the cattle.
Adityanath has asked the officials to identify people engaged in cow smuggling and take toughest possible action against them.
Slaughtering cows and beef is banned in Uttar Pradesh, like in most states of the country.
Police launched a crackdown on slaughterhouses, triggering panic, with butchers and meat unit owners fearing for their livelihood.
Shops selling chicken and mutton, which is legal, were shut in many parts of the state, fearing action.
In Amroha district, a “cow thief” was beaten to death by villagers in Kalka Wali Dagrauli on Tuesday morning, police said.
Six villagers were injured when thieves opened fire to escape. “One of the four accused, identified as Nasir of Sikampur Milak village in Rampur district, was beaten to death by villagers,” Amroha superintendent of police Shiva Simpi Chenappa said.
Three shops were set afire in Hathras, police said.
“Unidentified persons set ablaze three shops, selling fish and meat. An FIR has been registered,” Hathras superintendent of police Dilip Kumar Srivastava said.
Meat processing and packaging units owned by some Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leaders in Kharkhauda area of Meerut were raided on Wednesday morning.
Three packaging and five poultry fodder units were sealed.
BSP leader and former MP Shahid Akhlaq, whose two units were sealed, described the raids as “an excess against minorities”.
The owners failed to explain how and from where they were getting supply of raw material for fodder when slaughterhouses were not operational, SSP J Ravindra Gaur said.
All meat shops remained shut in Kanpur after five slaughterhouses were sealed.
Haji Nafees Ahmed ‘Achchey Babu’, president of the Qureishi Biradari (butchers’ association), said the community members feared harassment.
“Police had told many of them not to do business,” he claimed.
Hundreds of meat-sellers laid siege to MLA Irfan Solanki’s Pench bagh office, asking the Samajwadi Party leader to take up the matter with the government.
A slaughterhouse was also sealed in Varanasi. Though the unit was closed down in 2012 but animals were still being slaughtered, police said.
The civic body sealed 10 shops, including those selling mutton and chicken, in Allahabad.
“Over 60 illegal meat shops are running in the city. They will be sealed in the next two days,” said Allahabad Nagar Nigam’s animal husbandry officer Dheeraj Goyal.
Five slaughterhouses were ordered shut in Aligarh after raids by police and district administration teams.
“The drive will continue and not a single illegal slaughterhouse will be allowed to function in Aligarh,” SP (city) Atul Srivastava said. Several owners shut down their shops as the news of the raids spread.
(with HTC inputs from Meerut, Kanpur, Allahabad and Aligarh, and PTI)