Three Muslim youths were assaulted by members of the People For Animals group for transporting buffaloes in Delhi on Saturday night, the Delhi Police said. The organisation is chaired by Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, who has denied the allegation, NDTV reported.

The incident took place near Kalkaji temple in south-east Delhi. The victims are being treated at the AIIMS Trauma Centre. The news channel shared a video where a man claimed that he had chased the transporter’s vehicle from Gurgaon as the cattle were being taken for slaughter.

The police said the three men were taking 14 buffaloes in a truck to east Delhi’s Ghazipur mandi when they were stopped by members of the non-governmental organisation. Investigators have ruled out any involvement of cow vigilante groups in the incident.

The victims have been identified as Rizwan (25), Ashu (28) and Kamil (25). While Rizwan and Kamil are residents of Pataudi town in Haryana’s Gurgaon district, Ashu is a resident of Mathura in Uttar Pradesh.

The police have registered two cases in connection with the incident –
one against the transporters under section 429 (mischief by killing or maiming cattle) of IPC and provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, on the basis of the complaint by PFA members, and another case of wrongful restraint and criminal assault against several unnamed persons, on the basis of the complaint by the driver of the seized vehicle. They have also seized the truck and the animals.

The transporters have got bail, News18 reported.

“The condition of the injured persons are stable and they have received injuries mostly on their faces,” Deputy Commissioner of Delhi Police (south-east) Romil Baniya told “From preliminary investigation it seems that the three persons were beaten up by the members of PFA. However, no Gau Raksha group was found involved in the incident. Investigation is under way.”

A senior police official said they received a call about the incident from Gaurav Gupta, an animal welfare officer with People for Animals. “The truck has been seized and the injured buffaloes, which were being transported under pathetic conditions, are being treated too,” he said. The police have also detained a few people for questioning, however, their identities have yet to be revealed.

When tried to contact Gaurav Gupta, his brother Saurabh Gupta picked up the phone and denied any sort of involvement in the assault. Both brothers are animal welfare officers for PFA and they were present at the spot last night.

“We received a call from a woman who told us that she had come across a truck carrying cattle in a poor condition and that she was chasing the vehicle on the Outer Ring Road stretch near Kalkaji. She later told us that she finally managed to stop the truck with the help of some locals,” Saurabh Gupta said. “By the time we reached the spot, the three occupants of the truck were already injured after being beaten up by unidentified persons. The woman who had called us up was there. Police too reached the spot around the same time. We are cooperating in the investigation and have asked police to go through CCTV footage to identify the persons who assaulted the men in the truck.”

While the police are yet to check the documents pertaining to the buffaloes being transported, Gupta said that this was a case of violation of animal rights. He said the three injured men were suspected to be part of an organised racket involved in illegal cattle trade in Delhi-NCR and neighbouring states.

A senior journalist too happened to be passing by the Outer Ring Road stretch near Kalkaji when he came across the injured persons, some police officials present at the spot and some unidentified men who claimed to have trashed the three men.