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The Bombay High Court today asked the Maharashtra government to file reply to a public interest litigation seeking preventive action against cow vigilante groups ahead of next month's Eid ul Adha.
City resident Shadaab Patel filed the PIL last month, expressing fear that cow vigilante groups may stir up trouble during Eid. Among other things, he demanded a helpline to deal with such groups.
The petition sought a direction to the state to take effective steps to protect citizens, especially those who deal in cattle or transport cattle, from lynch mobs.
A division bench of justices B R Gavai and M S Karnik today asked the government to file an affidavit in reply and posted the petition for hearing after two weeks.
"The cow vigilante groups are taking law in their own hands... They are a threat as they cause disturbance or riot- like situation in the name of beef," the PIL said.
"The citizens have a right to life and right to carry on business and trade, guaranteed by the Constitution. It cannot be violated by such cow vigilantes, whose main aim is to create a sense of fear in the minds of people," it said.
The state government should set up a 24-hour helpline to "keep a check on illegal acts by cow vigilantes moving around freely in the name of cow protection in large groups", it said.
Every police station should maintain a list of cow vigilante groups in its area and submit a report to the court on the action taken against them, the petition demanded.