In an apparent snub to 'gau rakshaks', Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said today that if anybody interferes in the legal import of beef would be punished, a day after meat traders in the state withdrew their strike called to protest harassment by cow vigilantes.
The beef traders called off their four-day-long strike yesterday, citing assurance by the police that they would not allow harassment of dealers who import beef from Belagavi in Karnataka at the state border.
The strike had created scarcity of beef in Goa.
The traders resorted to the protest after Gau Raksha Abhiyaan, an NGO, had allegedly targeted trucks carrying beef from Karnataka, claiming that animals are slaughtered in illegal slaughterhouses across the state border.
"I will see to it that if anyone interferes in the legal import (of beef), I will ensure that he is punished," the chief minister told reporters when asked about the incidents where vehicles carrying beef were stopped by cow vigilantes on the Goa-Karnataka border.
The chief minister said he had asked the police to go strictly by law.
"I have told police that they have to go by law. Legal provisions say that if there are documents and if there is proper billing, you cannot stop anyone from importing things," he said.
Parrikar said the police must check legal documents related to the commodity (beef) at the state border.
"If everything is proper, no one should be allowed to interfere," he said in an oblique reference to the cow vigilante groups.
Former Congress MP Francis Sardinha yesterday alleged that many cow vigilantes were "sponsored" by the BJP-led state government which, he said, wanted to please their "bosses in the RSS".
The slaughter houses in Karnataka had refused to supply meat till the Goa government took steps to stop the harassment by cow vigilante groups.
Around 25 tonnes of beef is brought to Goa from Belagavi every day.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had alleged that the "beef crisis" in Goa was being created to divert the attention of people from controversies like the Mahadayi river water sharing and coal pollution.