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If a new order issued by the Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police Sulkhan Singh takes effect, innocent and legitimate cattle traders and dairy farmers could be detained without explanation for three months or they could be jailed as ‘gangsters’.

Singh’s order covered cattle smugglers as well as people suspected of cow slaughter. The order was issued to all police officials present in a review meeting in Lucknow on June 5, according to reports.

“There is a need to clamp down on cow slaughter and transport of cows for the same. The National Security Act (NSA), 1980 or Gangsters Act must be invoked against criminals indulging in the same,” the DGP said in the order.

The much-abused National Security Act allows for detention of any person for three months or more with a view to preventing him from “acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the state or from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order.”

The problem with implementing this Act is that in the invocation of NSA the state has to inform the centre within seven days. What the DGP was thinking unilaterally by calling for NSA to be invoked without proper clearances is not clear.

The DGP, however, has within his ambit the Gangsters Act.

According to the Uttar Pradesh Gangsters and Anti-Social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986, a “gang” is defined as: “a group of persons, who acting either singly or collectively, by violence, or threat or show of violence, or intimidation, or coercion, or otherwise with the object of disturbing public order or of gaining any undue temporal, pecuniary, material or other advantage for himself or any other person, indulge in antisocial activities.”

Incidentally, transporting of cows does not fall within the ambit of this Act while defining a gangster or his or their activity. Hence the DGP has to explain the reason for the use of such an Act.

How the police force starts to react with this order is not clear, but it will certainly put more firepower into the hands of the self-styled gau rakshak goons who have killed and maimed several people in the name of religion in the past.

The DGP has also ordered that officers make sure that criminals do not get bail.

India Legal Bureau

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