As many as 21 suspected Sri Rama Sene activists were arrested for waylaying six vehicles ferrying beef (buffalo meat) and torching one of them near a temple in Karnataka’s Doddaballapura around 5.30 am on Sunday.
Tension prevailed in the area following the incident, prompting the Bengaluru rural police to bring in reinforcement to keep the situation under control.
The activists roughed up the drivers and butchers in the vehicle and paraded them with the meat on their heads. Around 50 activists of the fringe pro-Hindutva were involved in the incident.
The arrested men were produced before a magistrate, who remanded them in judicial custody. The police said 14 of them were arrested for dacoity, assault using dangerous weapons, arson, rioting, and unlawful assembly among other sections under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Seven men, including drivers, in the vehicles were booked under the Anti-Cow Slaughter law and illegal transportation of cattle meat, a senior officer from the Town police station said.
What the law says
The Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Act, 2020, passed by the previous BJP government in the state, designates cattle as “cow, calf of a cow and bull, bullock, and he or she buffalo”, stating that their slaughter is banned.
Under the earlier 1964 Act, only the killing of “any cow or calf of she-buffalo” was banned. The 2020 law does not permit the slaughter of “bullocks, and male or female buffaloes” as well.
The Congress had said that it would repeal the 2020 law once it comes to power, but there is no movement in that regard now that the party is in government.
The police said the vehicles were coming from Hindupur in Andhra Pradesh. “They were coming via Gauribiddanur and while one of them was crossing a toll gate in Chikkaballapura, an activist noticed one of the vehicles,” the officer said.
When the activist questioned the occupants of the vehicle, they allegedly tried to run him over. The activist also learnt that five more vehicles were following the car. He called up his associates and informed them that around six vehicles carrying meat were heading towards Doddaballapura.
A large group of Sri Rama Sene activists led by one Sundaresh Naragal, who claimed to be the district unit leader, waited for the vehicles near the temple junction. They then waylaid the car, a Tata Indigo, unloaded the meat, and set it ablaze. They then waylaid all the vehicles that were following the car.
Seven drivers and butchers were allegedly forced to alight, and their mobile phones were snatched. The police said the mob even robbed the men of ₹2,000. The activists got furious on finding the severed heads of buffaloes and other cattle in one of the vehicles.
They then caught hold of all the seven men, assaulted them, and paraded them with the severed cattle heads. They were then asked to sit on the road with severed cattle heads on their laps until the police arrived.
Taking law into their own hands
“We received information that illegal transportation of beef from Hindupur in Andhra Pradesh Chikkaballapura, Doddaballapura, and the rural areas around Bengaluru is rampant during weekends. One of our activists spotted a vehicle carrying beef at the Chikkaballapura toll plaza. He was taken aback when the police there did nothing. When he questioned the occupants of the vehicles, the butchers tried to assault him and run him over by car,” Naragal told reporters.
“Sri Rama Sene activists then waylaid all six vehicles near the Inspection Bungalow Circle in Doddaballapura and handed them over to the police. However, the police decided to book and arrest us. When there is a law called Anti-Cow Slaughter and the police are not doing their job, why would the police arrest us? Sri Rama Sene will take care of us,” he added.
Superintendent of Police (SP) Bengaluru Rural Mallikarjun Baldandi said there were six vehicles in total.
“One was a Tata Indica and others were Bolero pickup trucks. They were carrying meat. Around 5.30 am Shri Ram Sene workers caught the vehicles and started abusing the occupants. They also burnt one of the vehicles. We have arrested seven people for illegal transportation of cattle meat, and seized the vehicles and 18 tonnes of meat. Fourteen people were arrested for torching the vehicle,” he said.