Lucknow: Seven buffaloes robbed from powerful Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan's home, which had scores of policemen on their toes over the weekend, have been found.
Three cops have been removed for 'dereliction of duty', but Mr Khan blames the media for making too much out of the case of the missing buffaloes. "Is this news? I thank media for making it news," he scoffed, but didn't deny.
The buffaloes were stolen from the minister's well-protected farmhouse late on Friday. The alleged robbers had cut open thick iron chains to take away the animals.
Led by the Superintendent of Police, Sadhna Goswami, cops across the district spread out in a massive buffalo hunt, combed fields and took sniffer dogs along to track down the animals. The distraught minister reportedly had CCTV footage of slaughterhouses scanned.
To everyone's general relief, the buffaloes were finally all found on Sunday, in different areas. Sources say the police are hoping that the minister will withdraw his case.
The VIP buffalo search has raised Azam Khan's score of controversies linked to what his critics describe as misplaced priorities. Mr Khan, who is in charge of Minorities and Urban Development, is the number two minister in Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's cabinet.
"The police take strict action and officers are suspended if Azam Khan's buffalo is stolen but no action is taken when women are raped, incidents of communal violence takes place in Uttar Pradesh," said BJP's Siddharth Nath Singh.
The case of the missing buffaloes also kept social media buzzing. "That day is not far when the UP Government will offer Z category security to buffaloes whilst human beings die in riots and cold waves," tweeted Suhel Seth.
Mr Khan has been accused of not doing enough for those affected by the riots in Muzaffarnagar, the district he is in charge of. Recently, he was criticized for leading a poorly-timed multi-nation junket of ministers and MLAs on a study tour packed with sight-seeing. An uproar forced the delegation to return earlier than planned.