A trio, who allegedly smuggled calves from Hosur to Vaniyambadi for slaughter — apparently to be later passed off as mutton in hotels — was apprehended by the public and handed over to the Udhanapalli police on Sunday.
The issue came to light on Sunday after the public took matters into their own hands and intercepted a mini lorry smuggling calves from Hosur. Based on information that around 100 male calves were being smuggled, a group of over 30 persons, including activists from the BJP, Bajrang Dal and VHP, intercepted the vehicle near Thavasiganapalli. The lorry was transporting 88 calves to slaughter houses in Vaniyambadi and Ambur. A protest soon broke out in Thavasiganapalli, with the residents demanding that those behind the smuggling racket be brought to book, fuelling tension in the area. The Udhanapalli police had heated exchanges with the agitators, including Soolagiri union BJP president Sundar and secretary Premnath.
The police subsequently arrested three persons, including the mini-lorry driver. As many as 85 calves crammed into the vehicle were then released. However, four calves reportedly died during the journey. In the ensuing melee, around 40 calves ran helter skelter, while the remaining 44 were taken to the Udhanapalli police station.
When the public caught hold of the cleaner of the lorry, he confessed that the calves were bought by butchers in Vaniyambadi and Ambur. As mutton was expensive, calf meat was apparently being passed off as mutton and served with biriyani in some hotels. Krishnagiri District had one of the highest number of cattle rearers. The smugglers, BJP activists pointed out, cashed in on this and smuggled the male calves to Vaniyambadi and Ambur.
Pointing out that such animals could be protected under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, animal rights activists claimed that though such smuggling started in the district around a year ago and demanded check posts on the highways connecting Krishnagiri to Vellore.