The chairman of the People for Animals (PFA) Haryana unit, Naresh Kadyan, has revealed that the two suspects in 23 April’s attack on three Muslim men transporting buffaloes in Delhi were trained by him and that he had been conducting such “training” since 2005 on the instruction of Union minister Maneka Gandhi.

According to reports, Kadyan said that he was asked by Maneka Gandhi to conduct the training them. He also recalled an incident when they had caught a truck carrying brushes made of mongoose hair and he had told the volunteers that the first thing to do in such a situation is to call the police and let them do their job.

Expressing his displeasure, Kadyan said that brothers Gaurav Gupta and Saurabh Gupta (accused in Saturday’s attack) were part of the exercise and he doesn’t know what kind of work these people now do under the umbrella of People for Animals. “This is not the training I gave them,” he added, referring to Saturday’s assault.

According to its Facebook page — its website peopleforanimalsindia.org has been deactivated since Sunday — PFA is “India’s largest animal welfare organization”, with a network of 26 hospitals, 165 units and 2.5 lakh members.

Many PFA unit members said that the Union Minister was the organisation’s “leading founding member and guide”. Websites of most of the units said these chapters were set up “under the advice of Maneka Gandhi”.

Notably, both the FIRs registered in connection with the assault incident, and the PFA’s website, have listed the organisation’s address as 14, Ashoka Road, New Delhi, 110001, which is the official residence of Maneka Gandhi.

Biplab Mahapatra, in-charge, PFA Odisha, reportedly said that it is under the guidance of Maneka Gandhi that we they have over 150 units today. Surat Prasad Gupta, in charge of PFA’s Agra Unit, said Gandhi is a “mentor” for the organisation, which is an “NGO minus any government backing”.

Gaurav Gupta and his brother Saurabh Gupta are part of the ‘raid team’ of the Delhi chapter. They hail from Ghaziabad and have full support from the top. They have been conducting raids along with volunteers for 10-12 years, said a PFA member.

On Saturday, the vehicle that was intercepted was transporting buffaloes from Haryana’s Pataudi to Ghazipur in east Delhi. Police said two FIRs have been filed — one against the men transporting the animals; the other against unknown persons for assaulting them.

The men transporting the animals — Rizwan (25) and Kamil (25), and Ashu (28) — were arrested under section 429 (mischief by killing or maiming cattle) of the Indian Penal Code and provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. They were later released on bail.

A case under IPC sections 323 (causing hurt) and 341 (wrongful restraint) was registered against unknown persons on a complaint filed by the driver of the vehicle, police said.