A 32-year-old man who was apprehended by the Godhra B Division police station on Wednesday for allegedly trafficking cow flesh committed suicide inside the lock-up early on Thursday, as recorded on CCTV footage.
The deceased, Qasim Abdullah Hayat was detained on his way to supply meat to his local clients on Wednesday. He committed suicide before he could be brought before a court.
Panchmahal district Superintendent of Police, Leena Patil said: ‘The FIR was filed on Wednesday at 7.45 pm and the accused died inside the lock-up at around 3.20 am on Thursday. We have the CCTV footage, in which he is seen tearing up the bedsheet and hanging himself by the gate of the lock-up. It was a partial hanging. We have initiated the medical procedures, accordingly to prepare a report.’
A relative of the deceased stated: ‘I met Qasim on September 14 at the police station. He told me that the police beat him up and were forcing him to confess that he was carrying beef. He told me to tell his brother to seek help for him. When I came with his tiffin and tea this morning around 7.30am, police did not let me in… They did not tell me that he had died. Someone from the police station told us that he was tortured the previous night.’
According to the FIR, a police patrol team received a tip on September 14 that the accused was transporting cow flesh from Sevaliya to Godhra on a two-wheeler and a squad intercepted the two-wheeler at the Godhra Bhamaiyya overbridge.
The FIR states: ‘It (the two-wheeler) had a plastic bag hanging in the front, which was opened in the presence of the panch witness. The bag contained the meat of a slaughtered animal… the man riding the two-wheeler… said his name was Qasim Abdullah Hayat, a resident of Idgah Mohalla in Godhra. The luggage compartment of the two-wheeler had more meat, including portions of limbs and a tongue.’
According to the FIR, the accused told police that the mutton was obtained from a butcher in Sevaliya named Abdul Kader Qureshi and was to be given to five people in Idgah Mohalla. The two-wheeler was seized by the police, who launched an inquiry ‘on suspicion that the tongue was likely from cow slaughter.’ A veterinary doctor who was brought in to identify the meat said it was beef, but the samples be sent to the Surat Forensic Science Laboratory for confirmation.
The meat was weighed in front of witnesses and found to be 25 kilogrammes, worth Rs 5,500, and samples were transferred to the Surat FSL for testing, while the remaining meat was buried in a grazing field, the FIR states.
The FIR was filed against seven people, including five women clients who had made orders with Hayat and the butcher in Sevaliya, after the Surat FSL confirmed that the sample of meat provided for testing was from cow slaughter.
The defendants were charged under IPC Section 429 (mischief by killing or maiming cattle), the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 Section 11 (treating animals cruelly), and the Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 2017, which stipulates punishment for the direct or indirect sale, keeping, storage, transport, offer, or purchase of beef or beef products in any form, as well as punishment for unauthorised selling, keeping, storage, transport, offer or purchase of beef.