Even as cow vigilantism is making ripples across India, the Maharashtra government has faltered in its plan to deploy portable cow meat detection kits to ascertain at the earliest if a suspected meat consignment is of a cow or a buffalo.These kits, which were to be deployed in all the 45 mobile forensic support vehicles in police commissionerates and district units, would enable on-the-spot results as compared to the usual three days laboratory tests.This would have helped defuse the law and order situation in case of suspected beef seizures and prevent losses to suppliers, transporters and restaurant owners in case the seized meat didn’t ultimately turn out to be beef.However, sources said this had not been done as the kits, which were originally meant to be pressed into service by July-end, had not been purchased so far.”After a large number of seizures of suspected beef, it was planned that these kits would be purchased and used. Though the number of samples sent for testing have declined from over 200 per month around a year ago to just about 100 per month now, it is necessary to deploy these kits to prevent any violence or conflagration in case of any suspected beef seizures,” said a home department source.”Compared to the around two days it takes for the testing in our laboratories due to the scientific processes involved, these kits, which detect the gene present in cow meat protein through the ELISA method, gives a result in around half-an-hour,” he added.It had been proposed that on a experimental basis, one such kit, which could test up to 25 samples, would be deployed on each of the 45 mobile vans. Ironically, after the Maharashtra government plan to operationalise these kits, police establishments in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh had also enquired with them about it.The official noted that they had trained around 100 police personnel — with a science background — in the protocols of forensic evidence collection to be posted with these vans. The Directorate of Forensic Science Laboratories (DFSL) is also recruiting staff for these posts.He added that the DFSL had already written to the home department and the director general of police (DGP). “Though we have DNA testing facilities in five of our labs at Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, Nagpur and Aurangabad, transporting these samples to these establishments leads to a loss of time and effort,” the official explained.Meanwhile, SP Yadav, director general (legal and technical), when asked about the delay, said, “That is in the procurement process.” He added the issue had been referred to the government, and hence it was not possible to say when these kits would be operational.Fact fileMaharashtra has forensic science labs in Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune, Nashik, Amravati, Nanded, Kolhapur and Aurangabad While the killing of cows, calves is banned under Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976, the Amendment Bill in 1995, extended it to bulls and bullocks
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