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Cow slaughter is the most common reason to invoke the National Security Act, 1980 (NSA) in the state of Uttar Pradesh, an Indian Express investigation has revealed.

The NSA allows ‘preventative detentions,’ enabling state authorities to detain the accused without a formal trial. The current findings show that most detentions in U.P. under this law are made without sufficient evidence and were later quashed by the court.

The Indian Express found that out of the 120 petitions filed under the NSA, cow slaughter accounted for more than a third of cases that reached the Allahabad High Court between January 2018 and December 2020. The analysis showed all individuals accused for cow slaughter under the NSA belonged to “the minority community.”

In many cases, authorities cited that the slaughtering of the animal had led to disruptions in public order and had created an atmosphere of fear.

Interestingly, in more than 70% of the cases linked to cow slaughter, the High Court came to the rescue of the accused — quashing the detention orders passed by magistrates and releasing the accused from custody. The court ended up dismissing 94 out of the 120 orders related to NSA petitions overall.

The investigation found patterns of similarities upon reviewing the orders passed by magistrates: there was a verbatim likeness in the reasons cited by the officials for detaining people. Phrases like “atmosphere of fear and terror has engulfed the whole vicinity,” “people started running helter-skelter and the situation has become tense,” and “women, in particular, became reluctant to go out of their house and do their routine work,” figured in multiple orders between 2018 and 2020; reflecting the erratic usage of the law.

This story first appeared in on April 6, 2021 here.