Animal vigilante groups portray Gujarat in bad light globally: Police tells HC

The case pertains to a group of vigilantes led by Dipa Joshi of "Namaste Foundation", who stopped a mini truck carrying 22 goats in Ahmedabad last month.
Last Updated : 02 July 2024, 14:54 IST

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Ahmedabad: Accusing animal vigilante groups of "portraying Gujarat in bad light both nationally and internationally", the Gujarat police, in an affidavit submitted to the High Court on Tuesday, has said that such groups "need to be curbed." The affidavit says that such groups take law in their own hands and create a difficult law and order situation during festivities like Eid and Rath Yatra.

The case pertains to a group of vigilantes led by Dipa Joshi of "Namaste Foundation", who stopped a mini truck carrying 22 goats in Ahmedabad last month. The driver fled the scene and the police with the locals had to push the truck with goats to a nearby police station for a kilometer as they couldn't start the vehicle.

"No private person has authority to stop any vehicle on the road. In fact, there are multiple examples of extortion, and even such animal activists being mowed down by vehicles carrying animals thereby creating serious law and order problems. It is submitted that the court may be pleased to take serious note of these facts and take a strict view against such kind of fake and motivated vigilantism," read the affidavit filed by SN Patel, Assistant Commissioner of Police, N division, Ahmedabad city.

The affidavit further added, "I submit that goat meat (mutton) is readily available in various hotels in Gujarat including 5-star hotels and is legally permitted under the law. If we permit such vigilantism, it is going to create serious issues in the society in the whole of Gujarat. This will result in unnecessary harassment by vested interests..."

Police have also said that "such acts have the potential of disturbing communal harmony. The said vehicle was seized on 10/06/2024 while Bakri-Eid was celebrated on 17/06/2024. After Bakri-Eid there is Rath Yatra on 07/07/2024 which has a long history of incidents of communal violence."

The affidavit added, "It is submitted that in the digital era, such incidents find there place immediately on various social media platforms and the kind of obnoxious comments which are posted on these platforms possess a new potent threat to aggravate the communal issues."

"Such behaviour has potential to inflame the society and these incidents find fertile ground in times of events like Rath Yatra and Eid. Further, such incidents portray Gujarat in bad light nationally and internationally. Thus, these groups need to be curbed," the affidavit read.

It is noteworthy that the mini truck carrying goats, which was stopped by the animal activists was later towed away to Paldi police station. Since the police station didn't have a facility to keep the goats, it handed over the goats to Seth Anandji Kushalji Khodadhor Panjrapol Sanstha (animal shelter) in Sanand.

The local police didn't register an FIR as the driver was found to be carrying the goats legally. Since the vehicle didn't have a required fitness certificate under motor vehicle act and it was carrying more than permissible (17 goats), the owner was fined Rs 5,500. However, the vigilante group was unhappy and a mob of about 100 people gathered outside the police station "to exert pressure on police to file an FIR."

The affidavit stated that to accept the "submission of the mob, there was no evidence to register an FIR under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960." Few days later, the Panjrapol managers moved High Court challenging the police order asking them to release the goats to its original owner and register an FIR. The police filed an affidavit against the petition seeking to quash it. On Monday, the high court reprimanded the petitioner for filing such petitions, following which it was withdrawn.

It said that neither the "Namaste Foundation", which forced stop the mini truck nor the Sanand Panjrapol, where goats were handed over for the time being, are a recognised organisation.

Published 02 July 2024, 14:54 IST

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