Cows, Cows Everywhere: UP Farmers Drive Students Out And Lock Cattle Inside School Premises
Uttar Pradesh’s stray cattle menace is going out of control in districts like Kanpur and Ayodhya despite the state government and local bodies claiming the same. The situation is such that the local administration in Ayodhya had to impose Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to prevent people from abandoning their cattle.
How severe the situation is can be illustrated by a recent incident where farmers in Auraiya district rushed inside a school in Dakhilpur village when classes were going on. For the sake of their bovines, these farmers, armed with stones and sticks, forced students and faculty out of the school premises, reported Mirror Now.
According to Tara Chandra, principal of Dakhilpur’s Poorva Madhyamik Vidyalaya, hundreds of stray cows were then driven inside and locked in the school campus, turning it into a free-of-cost cow shelter. The principal further said in her police complaint that one of the teachers protesting against the act fell at the receiving end of the mob’s fury, an FIR for which has been registered at the Phahphoond police station.
Similar incidents have taken place, including one in Aligarh, where cows were driven and locked by farmers inside a local school.
But in a more recent incident, on January 13, farmers from Badalpur district locked up nearly 50 stray cows, inside a government primary school. The farmers alleged that the cows were damaging their crops. The incident happened after the villagers from Badalpur got inspired by farmers of another nearby village; Mahawad, where villagers had locked some 100 cattle in a government school after some stray cattle vandalised their fields.
In many villages, the schools were being emptied in order to accommodate cows. In Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s district, Chandauli, angry farmers disrupted classes and locked up stray cattle into the classroom of a government primary school while the classes were still running. In Prayagraj district, students were forced to sit outside in cold after farmers put the stray cattle in the school. This is the case in many other villages too.
The problem of stray cattle has become rampant in the state. The farmers claim that these bovine animals destroy their crops which result into huge financial losses.
0.5% ‘Gau Raksha’ cess introduced in UP to build cow shelters
A 0.5% additional tax has been introduced by the UP government on excise items, which is a “gau kalyan” (cow welfare) cess. The levy has been provided in order to construct and maintain cow shelters across the state.
Besides this, a 0.5% cess will also be levied on public sector enterprises’ profits, construction agencies like UP State Construction and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited, UP State Bridge Corporation Ltd, UPSIDC, toll tax gathered by government agencies, for the purpose.
With the state facing increasing stray cattle problem, they have been locked up in police stations and schools by farmers in order to protest against the menace, in various incidents. The problem got aggravated after the government started cracking down illegal on slaughter houses.
According to government spokesman Shirkant Sharma, at least 1,000 stray cattle would be accommodated in shelters in each district, for the construction of which government departments would contribute. Moreover, a penalty would be imposed on those who will let their cattle move into public places and roads.
Not enough shelter homes for cows
Earlier this month, the CM had asked officials to ensure that all the stray cattle are sent to cow shelters. However, the state, which has the highest number of cows and buffaloes (10% of cows and 30% of buffaloes), does not have an adequate number of cow shelter homes. In Etawa, only 2 out of the proposed 52 cow shelters are currently functional.
According to the last Livestock Census, published in 2012, India had approximately 52 lakh stray cattle. However, there are only 1,821 cow shelters that are registered across India with the Animal Welfare Board of India. While there are an estimated 5,000 shelters across the country, according to a survey by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations.
The Logical Indian Take
While the Yogi Government has made it clear that it would act against the people who would indulge in cattle slaughter or people who would abandon their cattle, the government has not provided funds for the shelter homes. The shelter homes that are run by the state are under pathetic conditions. There are reports that claim that many animals have died in shelter homes as they did not get adequate facilities to survive. Apart from violence related to cow slaughter, the state now has another problem of stray cattle.
Also, the past few years have witnessed numerous cow-related hate crimes in India. Since 2012, 29 people have been murdered in cow-related violence, 25 of whom were Muslim.