In another video shot in a field at Wadoda near Bhandara, a beef mafia member standing in front a herd of cows says, “Hume bhi maloom hai ki bohot buri maut marenge (cows), par saala dhanda hum doh number ka hi karenge (even we know the cows would die a brutal death but in the end this is our business).”
These videos underline the flourishing beef mafia in Vidarbha supplying cows to illegal slaughterhouses. The interstate mafia uses vehicles with number plates hidden by gunny bags to transport hundreds of bovines across the country, especially Hyderabad, via centrally located Nagpur.
Even Nagpur and adjoining areas have high demand for beef, which is prohibited in Maharashtra. Despite police raids, sources say illegal slaughterhouses operate with the ‘protection’ of some policemen.
Starting from Bhandara, the beef mafia use the Nagpur-Hyderabad highway to smuggle cattle. “Everyday around 15-20 vehicles pass Mouda toll towards Nagpur. They wrap the number plates with sacks,” said a source.
SP Nagpur Rural Vishal Anand said he would step up vigilance at Mouda toll and also at all checkposts and bandobast points. A source said, “The vehicles bring cows from Bhandara and dump them a desolate places called ‘bail bazaar’ behind Kalamna APMC market, from where they are loaded in trucks and containers and taken to the south, especially Hyderabad.”
SP Bhandara Lohit Matani said there have been inputs of abandoned cattle being brought to Bhandara from Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. “As for the herd of cows at Wadoda, we will look into it,” he said.
The activists also alleged that cops react late or ignore alerts. “Last week, we called city police control room on spotting a vehicle entering via Pardi but the night officer claimed he could not find the vehicle. This happened with Yashodhara Nagar police too,” said the anti-slaughter activist. “The vehicle with cows passed in front of Yashodhara Nagar police station but the cops claimed they could not spot it. When we went to the police station, the night officer was sleeping in his vest,” said the activist.
City police chief Amitesh Kumar had suspended half-a-dozen cops, dissolved one crime unit, and shunted two senior inspectors for failing to take action against beef mafia and slaughterhouses around two weeks ago. But activists said police stations of Zone V like Yashodhara Nagar and Pardi are still not acting against the beef mafia.
They alleged gangsters are using the ill-gotten wealth to further criminal activities, raise voice against the government, and target other communities.
Sources said the beef mafia lures poor farmers to sell off old and abandoned cattle. “The vegetable transporters too bring cattle and calves from Bhandara for Rs3,000 to Kalamna vegetables market. Successful transport nets the truckers commission of ₹15,000,” said an insider, adding cops turn a blind eye to the racket. “Many police stations are located right on the highways. Vehicles with cattle pass in front of them every day,” said another source.
Earlier, some cattle shelter houses too were found involved in selling rescued cows. Bhandara police had busted two such rackets. Police sources also said some activists pose as ‘gau rakshaks’ or cow vigilantes and engage in extortion and blackmail and also try to pick fights to trigger discontent and riots.