Four men from western Uttar Pradesh have been arrested at the Delhi border here on charges of beef smuggling, with the Noida Police considering invoking the stringent National Security Act (NSA) in the case, officials said Monday.
Three of the accused were held late Sunday night at the Sector 62 roundabout after a pick-up van was intercepted and checked by the police, leading to the recovery of 150 kg of beef from it, the officials said.
The UP Cow Slaughter (Prevention) Act, 2020 bans the slaughter of cow in the state and provisions punishment of up to seven years jail and fine of Rs three lakh for offenders.
Earlier this month the Uttar Pradesh Police identified that 168 "animal mafia" are currently active in the state, including the western part, and launched a crackdown on them.
Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (Noida) Ranvijay Singh said three accused were held Sunday night while the fourth, who had managed to escape, was arrested by officials of the local Sector 58 police station on Monday morning after a gunfight.
"The pick-up van intercepted by the police had beef in large quantity. Three of the van occupants were arrested immediately. They were identified as Sajjad, Rizwan and Sirajuddin - all residents of Dasna in Ghaziabad district," Singh said.
"During initial probe they told the police that are engaged in illegal slaughtering of cows and selling the beef at the Ghazipur market in Delhi," the officer said.
Their fourth partner, Junaid, had managed to escape from the spot after which a search operation was launched and he was intercepted near the D Park in Sector 62 this morning, Singh said.
"When surrounded by a police party, Junaid opened fire on them in an attempt to escape once again. He got injured in retaliatory action by the police after which he was taken to a hospital," the additional DCP said.
All four accused are notorious criminals having criminal history and FIRs lodged against their names in Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddh Nagar, etc, he said.
Police have also come to know of some more people connected to this illegal cattle slaughtering gang engaged in sales and supply of beef in Delhi, Singh said, adding they are searching more details about them and would take appropriate action.
"As for these four arrestees, the police would ensure strictest action against them and if required charges under the National Security Act would also be imposed on them," Singh said.
Once booked under the stringent NSA, an accused can be detained in jail for a period of one year, subject to review by a high court every three months.
The officer, meanwhile, said the police are continuously monitoring the stretch of the Delhi-Meerut Expressway which goes past Noida near Sector 62 roundabout for illegal activities.
Police have arrested illegal beef smugglers from the highway stretch in the past also as it is a key route connecting Uttar Pradesh with Delhi, the officer said.
The police said they have seized a country-made pistol along with some ammunition from Junaid after the gunfight and impounded his motorcycle.
An FIR is being lodged in the case at the local Sector 58 police station and further legal proceedings are underway, the police added.