Kalkaji incident: Gau Rakshaks or Maneka Gandhi’s People for Animals NGO?

Today, it was reported by many media houses that “Gau Rakshaks” had thrashed three men, who were transporting buffaloes in a truck. The reports were largely based on an ANI report. As per the police, the victims were being treated at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Trauma Centre.

But there is a doubt about the identity of the attackers. While initial reports as above labelled them as “Gau rakshaks”, later reports suggested otherwise. R Baaniya, the DCP of South East Delhi, said that the victims ended up in a scuffle with members of the People for Animals, an animal rights group.

The report states that at around 11.45 last night, Delhi Police received a PCR call from animal rights activists who complained about cattle being transported illegally. The call was reportedly made from the mobile phone of Gaurav Gupta, an animal activist and office bearer an office bearer of People for Animals (PFA). Union minister Maneka Gandhi chairs the animal rights group.

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The occupants of the truck too claimed that they had been roughed up by a group of animal rights activists led by Gupta. A few PFA members were also present at the spot, but they left without lodging a formal complaint.

But, Maneka Gandhi’s office issues a statement denying the involvement of PFA:

PFA has nothing to do with the incident. Three men transporting buffaloes in truck (were) allegedly roughed up by members of an animal rights group in south east Delhi’s Kalkaji. We have no PFA unit in Delhi. We have 10,000 volunteers across the country. Whoever acted did so in his individual capacity.

Contrary to the statement from Gandhi’s office, a look at the Facebook page of the main accused Gaurav Gupta, indicates that he is very much a part of PFA. His past posts also show that he has been involved in many raids involving various animals. Two years ago, a court had also summoned him on charges of extortion.

Further, a look at PFA’s website shows that contrary to Gandhi’s office’s statement, PFA does have a Delhi unit and Gaurav Gupta’s name features prominently:

Adding to the mystery, soon after the above screenshots were taken, the entire website of PFA “https://peopleforanimalsindia.org/”, went offline:

Further, another report claimed that the PFA workers said that they did not beat up the victims. They stated that they had reached the spot after locals had already beaten up the victims. However, they also claim that the first person to stop the truck was a PFA worker by the name Vandana Sharma.

The above version has been repeated by a Mr Rajeev Kaushik, who claims to be an office-bearer of PFA, He said that their society had got a tip-off that the three men were transporting animals for slaughter and they stopped the vehicle. Kaushik said they did not beat the men, but people who had gathered around them did.

Gaurav Gupta, the main person said to be involved in the incident too stuck to this version denying that they had beaten up the men. “We had information regarding inhumane transportation (of the buffaloes) and followed the truck.Then we called the police,” said Gaurav Gupta, who claimed to be a member of PFA.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Police has registered two FIRs in connection with the incident; one based on the complaint of PFA members alleging animal cruelty and the other against unknown persons for assaulting the three men. The police claimed  that the buffaloes were ‘in bad shape’ and that the victims had faced “superficial” injuries.

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