At least six police officers were injured when a mob of around 800 people protested on the Mumbai-Goa highway on Saturday against alleged cow slaughter in the area, the Mumbai Mirror reported on Monday.

Protestors blocked the highway from 5.30 am on Saturday, causing a 7-km long traffic jam. When the police arrived to disperse the mob, they pelted stones, attacked officers with sticks and burnt a police vehicle.

Superintendent of Police Pravin Mundhe said local residents of Lote town had complained that some people were slaughtering cows nearby. He said some animal remains found there were sent to a laboratory for testing last week. But Mundhe described Saturday’s assault as an “intentional attack”.

“There was no reason for the mob to call for a rasta roko on Republic Day,” Mundhe said. “There is no justification for the attack on the 15 policemen by the mob. They were in fact dispersed by the police, but gathered again in some time and turned violent.”

However, Shiv Sena District President Sachin Kadam blamed the police for not taking quick action against those who had allegedly killed cattle. He claimed the police used batons to disperse the crowd. “I was there when the protest took place and helped police take them to hospital,” Kadam said.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Vishweshwar Nandedkar, who was seriously wounded in the attack, said he had received a medal on Republic Day 2018, but was attacked this year on the same day.

The police reportedly increased patrols in neighbouring villages from January 20 following the complaints of cow slaughter. On January 25, they had rescued a cow and a bull from a vehicle occupied by four people, who, however, managed to escape.