The Madhya Pradesh high court has ordered the release of five people detained under the National Security Act (NSA) on charges of cow slaughter and consumption of beef, saying they were not informed about all legal remedies available to them.
The main accused, Akram, and four others were first arrested in June under the Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act after five kg of beef was recovered from his refrigerator.
Cow slaughter is banned in Madhya Pradesh.
They were released on bail, but the local collector ordered their detention under the NSA in July on the basis of a report from Begumganj town inspector that said Akram was a “habitual cow killer” and the fact that five kg of beef was recovered the refrigerator of his house only proved the point.
The collector detained them under the NSA on the ground that their “communal” activities were a potential threat to peace and harmony in the area as people were afraid to complain against Akram.
The high court ordered their release of all the five accused on October 3 because they were not informed of their right to make a representation to the central government against their detention.
“Neither the detention order nor the grounds of detention served on the detenus disclose the fact that the detenu can also make a representation to the central government and invoke remedy for revocation of the detention order in terms of section 14 of the National Security Act, 1980,” observed a division bench of the high court.
Cow slaughter and beef consumption are a sensitive issue in India.
Tensions have been running high on the issue over the past week since the brutal killing of a Muslim villager in Uttar Pradesh on a rumour that he had slaughtered and consumed a calf.