Maharashtra forensic laboratory to make beef test kits

Mumbai: Amid controversy over beef ban and lynchings by cow vigilantes, a Maharashtra forensic laboratory will develop and provide to police kits to detect beef or otherwise, officials said on Friday.

“These kits can detect meat proteins in a sample and provide test results within half an hour. If the report is positive that a sample is cow meat, it will then be sent for further forensic testing for confirmation through DNA process,” said Deputy Director KY Kulkarni of the premier Forensics Science Laboratory at Kalina in Mumbai.

The lab will design and develop these portable kits, each expected to cost around Rs 8,000, for the police forces. A total of 45 such kits are likely to be given to Mumbai police in August in the first round. Each would be capable of testing 100 samples of meat to see whether it is from a cow or other animal. With regular DNA test costs around Rs 750 per sample, these test kits will ensure saving of both time, money and efforts of the police.

For instance, since police will be able to confirm within 30 minutes if seized meat is of cow, they would not be required to make arrests and seizures. The move elicited a tweet from Congress MP Shashi Tharoor: “Awful case of misplaced priorities. We have nothing more important to spend state resources on? Beef detection kits!”

The present mechanism to ascertain whether seized meat is of cow or not is through time-consuming and expensive DNA testing, which is available only in Mumbai, Pune, and Nagpur, and soon would be extended to Nashik and Aurangabad. For the past over two years, Maharashtra has implemented a total ban on beef, including slaughter of cows, bulls, and bullocks, in the state under the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1976.

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