Mumbai: The Maharashtra government today denied in the Bombay High Court the allegations that the police in Malegaon had ordered the externment of a local ‘gau rakshak’ as they were opposed to his cow protection efforts.
In an affidavit, the state government submitted that it had inquired into the allegations of Macchindre Shirke that he was being targeted because of his efforts towards cow protection.
However, the inquiry revealed that Shirke had a criminal history and several serious cases were registered against him, the state government said.
“The petitioner (Shirke) has several cases against him dealing with serious offences such as culpable homicide, theft and property feuds. However, because of the power he wields among the locals, several witnesses were hesitating to testify against him,” said the affidavit, signed by Malegaon’s sub-divisional officer.
“Therefore, the police ordered that he stay away from the village for two years to ensure that they could question witnesses freely while probing the criminal cases against him,” it said.
As per the affidavit, when the local police approached the sub-divisional magistrate’s office to initiate proceedings of externment against Shirke, an inquiry officer was appointed to probe the case.
The officer also had to affirm whether the externment proceedings were justified.
The inquiry officer also issued a notice to Shirke granting him a hearing before approving the proceeding.
However, Shirke failed to appear before the officer, the state’s lawyer told the court.
“After going through the case papers, and the police and the inquiry officer’s report, I was satisfied that the petitioner regularly indulged in criminal activities,” the sub-divisional officer said the affidavit.
He held much power in the local community and was disturbing the peace in an area (Malegaon) that has a substantial Hindu as well as Muslim population, it said.
“He has at least nine cases of serious offences registered against him. Thus, the order of externment was justified and not at all excessive,” the affidavit said.
On the previous hearing, Shirke, 29, had alleged that he was a “gau rakshak”, an animal lover who had “saved thousands of cows and its (sic) progeny.”
He had alleged that he was externed from his village in Malegaon as well as from the entire Nashik district for a year because he had had lodged over 40 FIRs against people involved in cow trafficking, smuggling and slaughter. He had urged the HC to quash the externment order.