Uttar Pradesh: Fed Up Of Cows Eating Crops, Farmers Lock Stray Cows In Govt Schools

Published : 16 Jan 2019 10:39 AM GMT
Uttar Pradesh: Fed Up Of Cows Eating Crops, Farmers Lock Stray Cows In Govt SchoolsImage Credits: The Indian Express, Hindustan Times

The country’s Hindi heartland, Uttar Pradesh, ruled by the BJP government along with the problems of unemployment, poor health system and low education rate is now facing the challenge of stray cattle. The growing menace of stray cattle is becoming a new challenge for both the rural and urban population of the state. In the last two months, there have been several incidents in which the villagers have locked stray cattle in school buildings or in other government buildings to prevent cattle from destroying their crops. After receiving criticism over the stray cattle causing road accidents by loitering on the highways and destroying farmer’s field, the Yogi government had asked the Uttar Pradesh officials to keep the stray animals off the roads. The officials were given a deadline of January 10 to send the stray cattle to cow shelters.

As the officials have missed the deadline, the locals continue to face the problems related to cattle.

Schools instead of cows shelters

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 the month of December last year, Aligarh’s farmers locked up almost 800 cows in district schools to prevent them from loitering in the village. Just a few days after the incident, in Agra district, some farmers locked up herds of stray cattle, especially cows, in schools and other government buildings alleging that the animals are destroying their crops. Something similar happened in Shahjahanpur, reported The Scroll.

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 student were forced to sit outside in cold after farmers put the stray cattle in the school. This is the case in many other villages as well.

Why are the farmers fed up of cows?

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.

While speaking to The Times Of India, the village Pradhan of Badalpur district said, “We have to guard our fields 24X7. What to do? The cows are destroying the crops and seeds we are sowing. We are facing losses up to Rs 50,000 per acre.”

The villagers collectively decided to take the step to lock them up as the local administration did not pay any heed to their plea of taking the cows to the shelter homes. He claimed that the problem of stray cattle has become rampant for the past 3-4 years.

He added, “We waited long. Since the administration is disinterested, the farmers collectively decided to lock up the animals in the school. We need to sleep peacefully at night.”

While covering the Bulandshahr Violence, in which two people including a police officer and a youth were killed after clashes erupted in Shyana area, Uttar Pradesh over the alleged cow slaughter, The Logical Indian spoke to multiple people, who also claimed that the problem of stray cattle has become a major issue for the villagers in the rural parts of the state.

One of the villagers from Bulandshahr told us that the stray cows are the biggest issue in this area. To save crops from these stray cows, the farmers have to invest in the wire fencing.

“Even though Yogiji and Modiji have banned the abandoning and slaughter of cattle, but they should also make arrangements for their proper shelter and fodder. Cows are destroying our farms, but we don’t say anything. The government should make arrangements,” said another person from Bulandshahr.

Most of the farmers in the northern part of the country are getting their crops ready for harvest season. Many of them fear that the stray cattle would destroy their long-standing crops. In Faizabad district, many farmers were forced to sleep in the open fields in the chilly winter, only to save their crops from getting destroyed.

Yogi govt with stringent rules on cow protection

Since the time the Yogi government has taken hold of the state, the state government has been very vocal about their stand on the cow protection. In the past, the government has also made several announcements in this regard. Adityanath time and again has also emphasised that people who would be even slightly related to cow slaughter would have to face strict actions against them.

In Kanpur, after the officials missed the deadline to catch the stray cattle, the administration invoked section 144 to prevent stray animals from getting on the roads. The officials have also maintained that the owners of stray cattle which cause death on roads will also be charged under sections pertaining to Culpable Homicide not amounting to murder.

Not enough shelter homes for cows

In November 2017, Uttar Pradesh had issued a notification, providing guidelines to the dairies in the state. The notification had details on how cattle should be treated. The government had asked the dairies to take care of the unwanted or uneconomic animals -(that grow old and cannot produce milk). It has asked the dairies to either make provisions for these cattle on their own premises or have them sent to gaushalas (cow shelters) where they must pay for the upkeep. However, the Gaushalas, have no funds to operate, reports The Scroll.

Earlier this months the CM has asked that officials to ensure that all the stray cattle should be sent to cow shelter. 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.

In order to construct more cow shelters in the state now, the CM has also introduced a 0.5 percent cess on excise items, which could include alcohol. The same cess will be charged on toll collected by government agencies.

Muslim community get easily targeted

In the last few years, Uttar Pradesh has witnessed many incidents of mob lynching, assaults, violence over alleged cow slaughter. Unfortunately, Muslims mostly becomes easy target of such violence. There are reports that claim that many Muslims have sold their cows as they fear cow vigilantes. Many people whose livelihood was based on cattle trade also had to give up their profession as they fear that the self-proclaimed Gau-rakshak could attack them.

In Meerut, many Muslims have sold their cows as they believe that after Yogi Adityanath came to power, there have been more difficulties in doing cattle trade. While talking to the Hindustan Time, Badar-ul-Islam, an influential leader from Syana area of Bulandshahr said that he has to sell his cows to avoid troubles.

“Sensing the winds of change, I decided to sell my two cows as I didn’t want to buy trouble for myself. I have affection for cows and raised them at my home for over a decade as cow milk is considered best for the health of children and even adults,” he says.

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. However, the government has not provided funds for the shelter home. And even the shelter homes that are run by the state are under pathetic conditions. There are reports that claim that many animals have also 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 Read: To Build Cow Shelters, 0.5% ‘Gau Raksha’ Cess Introduced In UP

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