Sangeet Som is among the BJP's rising stars in Western UP. The MLA from Sardhana constituency is an accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots. He was in the news recently for making a provocative speech defying prohibitory orders in Bisara village in the tense aftermath of the lynching of Mohammed Akhlaq by a Hindu mob on suspicion, now proven baseless, that he had eaten beef.
For all of his anti-beef activism, it turns out, Som founded a company that now runs an abattoir-cum-processing unit in Aligarh.
Hindustan Times reported on Friday that Som served as a director in Al Dua Food Processing Pvt Ltd, which runs a buffalo meat plant in Aligarh.
Company filings with the Registrar of Companies show that Som actually founded Al Dua Food Processing in 2005 with two equal partners--Mainuddin Qureshi and Yogesh Rawat--and served as its first director until he resigned in 2008. He and his two partners ceased being directors and sold their shares in May 2008 to two other individuals--Mohammad Kamil and Nazira Begum--who continue to be directors and shareholders at present.
The slaughterhouse, however, started operations only in 2011. So, Som can argue that he was neither a shareholder nor a director when the slaughterhouse began operations.
Som told HuffPost India that his interests in the transaction was purely by way of investment in land. He professed ignorance about the company the paper trail says he founded.
"Mr. Rawat is a friend of mine. I bought land with him as a pure investment for six to seven lakh rupees in 2005. I did not even know who the third person was. Even now I don't know. I trusted Rawat," he said.
Shortly afterwards he said the Mainnudin Qureshi involved with the company should not be confused with Moin Akhtar Qureshi, a large Kanpur meat exporter with a trail of cases and controversies. "One from Delhi and the other from Qaziwara. But I have not been in touch with him for seven years," he said, moments after saying he did not know the third person involved in the land purchase.
Land with value of Rs30 lakh is shown on the balance sheet of Al Dua from 2005 itself. It also shows the company has unsecured loans from Qureshi, Som and Rawat.
"The plan was always to sell the land, not to set up a company," Som said. "But I was made director in some company only as a guarantee. At the time, I didn't even know what the company was for or what it would be in the future," he added.
The Memorandum of Association of the company, signed by Som, clearly states that it was going to do business related to meat, among myriad other businesses.
The company's meat processing facility in Aligarh has a clearance from Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority to operate an abattoir/slaughterhouse for 'buffalo meat'.
Som's claim of having invested Rs6 lakh in land checks out in the documents. He spent Rs2 lakh to purchase 20,000 shares and gave the company a loan of Rs4 lakh.
But his claim that he had no idea what the company was going to do is harder to believe in light of the extensive documentation required to purchase land and get clearances. It is clear that he and his partners were purchasing land for the purposes stated in the MoA of the company. Som and his partners couldn't have randomly named the company Al-Dua, which continues to operate under the name and exports products by that brand-name in Muslim countries with high demand for halal meat. It is possible that he and his partners acquired the land for its eventual promoters, set up the company and handed over the land and the company to them subsequently.
He told Hindustan Times that he would quit politics if his role in a meat factory was proven.
“I am a Hindu hardliner hence there is no chance of getting involved in activities which are against my religion,” said Som.
Al Dua Food Processing Private Limited, on its website, describes itself as a “leading producer and exporter of “HALAL MEAT” from India” and a specialist in the export of “halal buffalo, sheep/lamb, goat meat and hides."
Som also served as a director in Al-Anam Agro Foods, another meat exports company owned by Mohammed Kamil and his family, for a few months in 2008. That company also has a meat processing unit in Aligarh district.