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27 Mar 2017

UP abattoir drive sparks clashes, death

Policemen raid a slaughterhouse in Moradabad on Wednesday; an illegal abattoir in Varanasi which was sealed on Tuesday. (PTI)
Piyush Srivastava, TT, Lucknow, March 26: Uttar Pradesh cops' haste to enforce the stated and surmised elements of chief minister Yogi Adityanath's agenda has led to embarrassment, public discontent and mob violence, prompting the state police chief to try and rein in the eager beavers.
 A police crackdown on allegedly legal abattoirs prompts violence in an Uttar Pradesh village.
 A quarrel at an eatery over the state-wide slaughterhouse closure drive leads to a man being shot dead.
  Police's "Anti-Romeo Squad" detains a teen and his sister from a park.
Police tried to close half-a-dozen goat and buffalo slaughterhouses last evening at Basahiya village in Kushinagar, prompting a mob attack on their jeeps, teargas retaliation and eventual paramilitary deployment.
A woman told reporters of police "terror" since Adityanath ordered all illegal (buffalo) slaughterhouses closed on Wednesday.
"Those running illegal abattoirs have already closed them but the police are still harassing the villagers," she said.
Local journalists, however, told this newspaper that only one goat abattoir among the six closed was licensed. Kushinagar superintendent of police Raju Babu Singh said the force had come to the village for the first time on Saturday on being tipped off about illegal abattoirs.
Still, the clash has underlined how, egged on by vigilantes, the cops have been shutting down even legal buffalo and goat abattoirs.
Adityanath had yesterday declared that legal buffalo slaughterhouses that follow all the norms would not be closed. But meat trade leaders and abattoir owners have alleged the police began shutting legal and illegal buffalo slaughterhouses as soon as Adityanath was nominated for chief minister on March 18.
The BJP poll manifesto had promised a blanket ban on all buffalo slaughterhouses (cow slaughter is already banned in the state).
At some places, vigilantes from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and the Adityanath-run Hindu Yuva Vahini are said to be themselves forcing goat and buffalo slaughterhouses to close.
The trend forced state director-general of police Javeed Ahmad to issue a circular last night asking the force to keep the vigilantes at bay.
"We have asked the police to close down illegal slaughterhouses but we have not asked the social vigilantes to take up the police's job. Action would be taken against such elements," he told reporters.
But some within the force were sceptical about the possibility of booking them while admitting reports of vigilantism from Gorakhpur, Faizabad and Meerut.
"It's difficult at this stage. Don't forget that the chief minister himself is essentially a leader of such people: it's he who formed the Hindu Yuva Vahini in 2002," he said, asking not to be identified.
Around the same time as the Kushinagar clash, a debate at a roadside eatery in Kasaulia village in Etah led to Mohammad Javed being shot dead and three people suffering serious injuries. Two men have been arrested.
Etah senior superintendent of police Satyarth Aniruddh Pankaj would only say that "two groups had clashed while eating chow mein at an outlet".
Local media quoted a purported eyewitness as saying: "They were discussing the government's decision (on abattoirs). Suddenly, they started fighting. Later, more people joined in and fired at each other. Javed suffered a fatal bullet injury."
Another of the BJP's poll promises was a police "Anti-Romeo Squad" to quell roadside sexual harassment. Whether the police had officially formed such a squad was unclear till yesterday but reports were coming about the cops and vigilantes harassing couples, even married ones.
Last evening, the police in Deoria town picked up a teenaged boy and a girl and brought them to Kotwali police station. The cops asked for their identity cards when they said they were siblings.
Forced to sit in the police station for two hours, they were released only when their father arrived and identified them as his son and daughter.
Ajay Kumar, Circle Officer, said: "We will ask the squad to be careful in future and pick up only those involved in eve-teasing (passing lewd comments at women)."
Javeed Ahmad was again forced to issue a circular, saying: "Women police in civil dress should be deployed to confirm about those harassing girls and women before they are picked up."
He added that the cops "must not ask for identity cards or harass pairs who are willingly together" and that "private people shouldn't be involved in the Anti-Romeo Squad" - officially confirming the squad's formation.
Some Vahini members in Gorakhpur, Yogi's hometown, had forced boys and girls on Wednesday to publicly hold their ears and apologise for being together.
Meat strike
Meat sellers across Uttar Pradesh will go on an indefinite strike from tomorrow against the crackdown on slaughterhouses, reports PTI. "All shops will remain closed. Fish sellers too have joined us and are extending support to us," Lucknow's Bakra Gosht Vyapar Mandal office-bearer Mubeen Qureshi said. "It will go on indefinitely," he added.

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