From Mumbai

Two female animal rights activists have alleged that they were assaulted by butchers while trying to rescue a few calves – even as police stood by and watched.

Manasi Bhanage of the Plant and Animals Welfare Society (PAWS) said on Tuesday evening one of the volunteers spotted a few calves outside the municipal slaughter house in Kalyan’s Bail Bazaar area. “As per the rules, cows and calves cannot be slaughtered. The volunteers got suspicious and informed the team,” she said, adding that around 10 volunteers rushed to the spot to rescue the calves.

However, she alleged that when the volunteers reached the spot, the butchers who were holding the calves, threatened them and asked them to back off. “We spotted four policemen standing nearby but the officers said that they were from another police station.

We pleaded with them for help, but in vain,” said Bhanage. She said one of the officers was Prabhakar Bargav, who was on an official motorcycle (MH 05 AN 1299). Realising that police were not going to intervene, Bhanage said, the butchers turned violent and assaulted her and Parinita Joshi, another PAWS volunteer. The duo was beaten by nearly 25 men, she added. The male volunteers were restrained from helping the women.

Joshi added, “To top this they strangled one calf in front of us to tell us that we would be treated similarly if we didn’t back off.” The drama lasted for half an hour and in the end, the attackers put all the calves in a truck and left.

The PAWS volunteers then went to Bazarpeth Police Station to register a complaint. “Meanwhile, the attackers threatened a volunteer, who was standing outside the police station, with dire consequences if we complained. They, too, came on a motorcycle (MH 05 AY 1197),” Bhanage added. The volunteers registered another complaint of intimidation.

Police registered an FIR against unknown attackers for taking away calves and assaulting Bhanage and Joshi, and intimidating a volunteer. However, at the time of going to press, police had not made any breakthrough in finding the attackers or tracing the calves. “We have registered an offence. We will also question the policemen who were in the area and find out why they didn’t do anything. It is a serious lapse,” said Senior Inspector Chandrakant Thorat.