Last year in July, two women from the Muslim community were assaulted by members of cow vigilante groups on the suspicion of carrying beef at a railway station in Madhya Pradesh.
The year before that, in Uttar Pradesh, a Muslim man was lynched to death by a mob for allegedly consuming beef and slaughtering a cow, while his mother kept screaming that the meat was mutton.
In other such cases, Dalits have been stripped naked and beaten with iron rods by self-proclaimed ‘Gau Rakshaks’.
We live in a nation which prides itself on displaying utmost respect for an animal that gives us milk.
This respect, can sometimes, get people assaulted or killed.
However, the threat to one’s life is limited to the cow being slaughtered, skinned or consumed. If we leave the animal (considered our ‘mother’) on the street after her milch days are over and she is cast aside to either starve to death or run over by a car, we’re good.
Gau Rakshaks, who are supposed to protect cows and help them, offered no help to the hundreds of cows dying of hunger and thirst every day in Bundelkhand.
A true ‘cow protector’ is not someone who is driven by pseudo-patriotic politics. He is someone with a genuine love for the animal.
One such cow protector is Abhinav Srihan, animal rights advocate from Delhi.
Abhinav recognised the tradition of Anna Pratha in Bundelkhand
At the end of January 2017, Abhinav received a call from a localite of Bundelkhand who reported extreme cases of cruelty to cows in more than a 100 villages in the area.
Since the past four years, there has been a massive scarcity of water in Bundelkhand. The adverse impacts of the drought have pushed farmers to the brink, and they cannot sustain the lives of both themselves and their cattle. The only remaining option is to leave their cows ashtray, because killing would imply both legal and karmic consequences.
To prevent stray cows from grazing on drought-stricken land, they are locked up in large spaces like hospitals and schools for over three to four months during the drought period. They are supposed to be fed and taken care of till the rains come, following which, they should be released. This tradition is called anna pratha.
However, the reality is quite different and vile.
Speaking to The Logical Indian, Abhinav said that he realised that in Mahoba, Bundelkhand, local farmers have had the gates shut on their cows for the last four months, leaving them to die.
“The District Magistrate (DM) Ajay Kumar ordered forceful incarceration of cows so that they do not feed on any agricultural land. The villagers were asked to feed the cows till they are released. However, in most the villages, only a few offered help and the cows were mostly left to starve to death. In many places, they were not even fed once. I saw the condition – there were skeletons of cows lying on the ground. I had no idea that the situation was so bleak,” revealed Abhinav.
Abhinav started posting videos on social media to make people aware
“We approached the DM to inform him about the poor condition of cows in his district. However, he refused to accept the reality. This is when we started uploading live videos to showcase the truth,” said Abhinav.
Since January 27, Abhinav began uploading live videos and posts on Facebook daily.
The videos revealed a landscape sprawling with skeletons of dead cows or cows that are dying, with dogs waiting in wings to feast on them. The helpless animals do not even have a drop of water to drink and calves die as soon as they are born.
Chichara live DM
Posted by Abhinav Srihan on Monday, February 27, 2017
“70 percent of the cows have already died in Bundelkhand and we have started receiving calls from other states as well. 1.5 lakh cows have already died in Karnataka due to the drought,” said Abhinav.
Live videos helped Abhinav put pressure on the DM and the villagers. With aid from his animal rights organisation, Fauna Police, Abhinav suggested that the villagers feed the cows 2-3 days a week, while funds from his organisation would take care of the animals for the remaining days. From mid-March, the situation improved and the cows were released as the harvesting period was over and they could feed on leftover fodder.
Shiv poojaWe are providing food for these animals, anybody willing to help can donate at : Account name : Fauna PoliceAccount number 29280100010959Savings accountifsc- BARB0MUNIRK (5th character is zero)Bank of Baroda, Munirka, Delhi
Posted by Abhinav Srihan on Thursday, February 23, 2017
Abhinav and his NGO received no governmental help
When asked if any governmental body offered help to the cause of dying cows in Bundelkhand, Abhinav replied in one word – No.
When the DM was fully made aware of the situation through live videos, he continued to claim that the videos are old. Even the cow-loving administration of our country was unresponsive to the plight of an animal that is considered our ‘mother’.
In other words, cows are dying in India due to sheer apathy from the state and Centre. This is a time which demands cow protectors to step up, instead, the poor animals are left at the mercy of activists.
Abhinav’s NGO, Fauna Police, has been the frontrunner of the cause of Bundelkhand cows. Help has also been offered by the Holy Cow Foundation and Dhyan Foundation. However, no big animal welfare organisations have stepped up.
This raises the questions – What is the extent of the ‘raksha’ provided by the gau rakshaks?
Are their services limited to only those cases where there are political gains?
Is their vigilance about inciting communal violence?
The Logical Indian community raises these questions in hopes that they will be answered. We strongly support animal rights, but only when it is meant for the welfare of animals. Abhinav Srihan has taken commendable efforts in this regard. He has been victim to threats and assault due to his activism, despite which, he always stayed true to his cause. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Abhinav and hope that his organisation continues the good work for the coming years.
To know more about his work and the Bundelkhand issue, you can visit his Facebook page here.