Over half a dozen trucks carrying cows, buffaloes, goats allegedly for slaughter were damaged and one truck was set ablaze during a raid by animal rights activists, including People for Animals (PFA) and cadres of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) at Central Delhi’s ITO on Saturday night leading to massive traffic jam along Vikas Marg and Ring Road.
Angry locals, including some distressed commuters caught in the jam, joined the animal activists and RSS volunteers as they beat up those driving the trucks.
Saurabh Gupta from People for Animals (PFA), an NGO, whose chairperson is Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, said that they conducted the raids after receiving a tip-off that the cattle procured from States such as Haryana and Rajasthan, were being transported for slaughter to Central Delhi and Ghazipur. He added that the animals were packed into the trucks in a pitiable condition which got the public agitated.
“The animals were found to be piled one on top of another with broken or folded limbs restricting their mobility. Some had chilli powder rubbed in their eyes. Some pregnant buffaloes also had calves popping out of their uterus,” said Mr. Gupta who put the number of animals at 500-600 cows and buffaloes in addition to nearly 300 sheep and goats.
Asked if the raid was conducted in coordination with the police, Mr. Gupta said that they did not inform the police in advance but told them after intercepting the first truck.
“We did not inform the police in advance as the Station House officer of IP Estate police station had let off four of the six trucks with animals which we had intercepted and informed them about on Friday,” he alleged. The concerned officer, however, claimed that the NGO had caught only two trucks that night. PFA had stationed its members near the Delhi Police Headquarters on Saturday night, claimed Mr Gupta. Some RSS volunteers such as Amit, who is in charge of three RSS shakhas in East Delhi, however, said that it was they who first got the information and stopped the trucks and PFA activists arrived later. “We were the ones who first got the information, and the first to intercept the trucks,” said Amit adding that he and his fellow RSS cadres rescued the animals from the trucks before thrashing the drivers.
A total of 17 trucks were seized. Eight of these were seized by East Delhi’s Shakarpur police station while nine of them by Central Delhi's IP Estate police. Six men were arrested by Shakarpur PS and efforts are on to nab more, police said. The rescued animals are currently being cared for by the NGO.
The traffic situation caused by the incident eased only on Sunday morning as the clogging of vehicles which started around 11 p.m. lasted for hours. During this time, vehicles moving from ITO to Laxmi Nagar were not allowed to take the Yamuna Bridge.