Ex-BJP leader faces NSA for alleged cow slaughter
- Dewas police slapped NSA on Anwar Mev for possessing beef
- Mev was the vice-president of BJP\'s district minority cell
- The party expelled him promptly
More in the story
- Why NSA?
- Mev\'s past
- The impact on Dewas
Hindutva organisations have constantly targeted Muslims over beef-eating. But now a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party itself has been allegedly caught with beef in Madhya Pradesh's Dewas district.
Worse, Anwar Mev alias Anna has been slapped with the National Security Act (NSA). He was vice-president of BJP's district minority cell, but has now been expelled.
On Wednesday morning, two BJP workers Raju Vishwakarma and Gopal Chaudhary allegedly heard the sound of cattle mooing in pain inside Mev's house at the Freeganj area of Tonk Khurd town. The duo, who claimed to have seen him slaughtering an animal along with some more persons, informed the police as well as local right-wing organisations and kept vigil.
The police and the right-wing activists seized meat and a skinned head they claimed belonged to a cow. The police said the meat was hidden inside a bathroom in several packets.
The activists then took the packets the government veterinary hospital, while Anwar was jailed in Ujjain. Nine other accused, including Mev's sons, brothers and nephews, were kept in a local jail. Two more accused are absconding.
The police booked them under Madhya Pradesh's anti-cow slaughter law, the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Anwar's family, meanwhile, claimed the meat recovered was that of a buffalo calf.
"It was their register, their pen and their government. I don't know what they wrote but it was not cow meat," Munam Mev, Anwar's elder brother said.
The Madhya Pradesh Agricultural Cattle Preservation Act, 1959 prohibits the slaughter of cows, calves of cows, bulls, bullocks and buffalo calves, and stipulates imprisonment of up to three years.
However, the more stringent National Security Act empowers the police to detain an accused for up to 12 months.
The local administration and the police cited the primary report submitted by the government veterinary hospital to declare the recovered meat as beef.
However, it did not wait for a final report from a laboratory report in Mathura expected to come in 21 days.
An advisory board will decide whether Mev's detention under the NSA was justified. But the police justified invoking the NSA considering the "past criminal record" of Mev and recent communal disturbances in the area.
The administration also initiated the process to extern Anwar and four other accused from the district.
A red-faced BJP lost no time in announcing Mev's expulsion from the party.
"It did not matter what responsibility he had but we quickly expelled him after he committed a major crime," said Dewas district BJP chief Gopikrishna Vyas.
State BJP leader Shailesh Kesarwani justified imposition of NSA against Anwar Mev: "Cow slaughter won't be tolerated at all."
The Congress, on the other hand, blamed the BJP for dividing the society on communal lines "in the name of cow".
"According to reports, BJP men, including some Hindus, are involved in cow slaughter. The export of beef has increased manifold under the NDA government," alleged Congress leader Bhupender Gupta.
On the ground
The incident led to tension in Tonk Khurd. An additional police force was summoned from adjoining areas to prevent any flare-up.
While right-wing outfits protested over the incident, leaders from both communities demanded action against Anwar at a peace committee meeting. Some local Muslim leaders called for a boycot of Anwar's family, if the lab report confirms the seized meat as beef. The local bar association asked its members not to represent any of the accused.
Some Hindu organisations have renewed the demand to remove even mutton and chicken shops from near schools and religious places. Local Hindu leaders claim the presence of the shops hurt their religious sentiments.
The shopkeepers, mostly Muslims, opposed the move, saying they have been in business for decades without problem and Hindu groups are now deliberately targeting their livelihood. The campaign especially gained momentum after a 'Shourya Yatra' organised by the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in December and the recent communal violence in Dewas.
Despite the objections, however, Tehsildar Kanhaiya Lal Tilwari ordered the shops to be shifted away from the town. He has assured that municipal authorities will provide sheds to shopkeepers away from the town.
A shady past
Mev has faced allegations of cow slaughter in the past. According to the district's additional superintendent of police Rajesh Raghuvanshi, he was arrested last November when the carcass of a cow was found in the area.
Local sources said Mev illegally sold meat at a weekly market though his slaughter license expired long ago.
Bajrang Dal activists said they have been monitoring Anwar's family for two years and tried "to catch Anwar red-handed".
Many of Mev's family members are active in politics, mostly with the Congress. Anwar, however, joined the BJP a few years ago to "use the clout of the ruling party to cover illegal activities," some sources said.
Translated by Deepak Sharma
Edited by Joyjeet Das