The recent case of lynching of a man in Alwar has highlighted the problem of grave crimes that takes place in the name of gau raksha (cow protection). The visuals of violence left everybody shocked who demanded action against the culprits. The furore over cow vigilantism reached the Supreme Court too, which on Friday issued notices to six states over a petition that sought to ban cow protection groups.
While the focus on crimes committed in the name of cow protection is required, what is also required is a focus on problems of cow smuggling so that this menace is tackled from both the sides.
One of the reasons illegal slaughterhouses were banned by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was cattle theft and smuggling, unfortunately these reasons were never discussed in the mainstream media, which chose to focus on non-issues like a particular kebab shop in Lucknow being closed for a day.
But just because the mainstream media doesn’t make them headlines or topic of debates, it doesn’t mean that the problem is not grave. Given below are some instances when cattle smugglers not only broke law, but indulged in killings of police officers and common citizens.
This is just an indicative list:
1. What took place: 27-year-old police constable Ashok Kumar Yadav was killed and six policemen were injured as they tried to chase the cattle laden truck, which bulldozed through the barrier at the toll booth and on hit the police vehicle on being intercepted.
When : 1 June, 2013
Where: Bhadohi, Uttar Pradesh
2. What took place: Two residents of former UP minister Bhagwat Saran Gangwar ‘s village Ahmedabad under Nawabgunj tehsil were killed by a gang when villagers tried to stop them from taking away the livestock of local residents for illegal slaughtering. While one was identified as Chokey Lal, an elderly person, the body of the second victim whose identity isn’t known was found in a battered condition, leaving the residents fuming and opining that in a place where cattle symbolises power and opulence, cattle smugglers indulge in crime unabashed.
When: 7 February 2014
Where: Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh
3. What took place: A cattle laden vehicle killed two and injured many policemen, attached to Jait police outpost, when they tried to intercept it near Azizpur village in Mathura. The vehicle ran over home guard Ghan Shyam and then collided with the police van resulting into injuries to head Constables Ram Vakil who later succumbed to injuries, Constable Rajeev and Home Guard Bhanu Pratap.
When: 20 February, 2015
Where: Mathura, Uttar Pradesh
4. What took place: Cattle smugglers killed a Police Sub-Inspector. Sub-Inspector Manoj Mishra and a constable tried to nab a gang of cattle smugglers who were taking away 50 to 60 cattle. But the smugglers opened fire and managed to flee injuring the SI, who breath his last on the way to the hospital.
When: 10 September, 2015
Where: Bareily, Uttar Pradesh
5. What took place: Prashant Poojary (29) a flower merchant was brutally murdered in broad daylight by six men atop two motorcycles who attacked him with sharp weapons at a market in Moodbidri, when he was selling flowers as usual. Poojary, believed to be involved with the Bajrang Dal, was actively involved in stopping illegal cow slaughter and transportation.
When: 9 October 2015
Where: Moodbidri, Karnataka
6. What took place: Arun Kumar Mahaur, a Dalit VHP leader, who ran campaigns against cow slaughter was shot dead by five men in Mandola area, in Ghaziabad, by those running illegal slaughter houses.
When: 27 February 2016
Where: Agra, Uttar Pradesh
7. What took place: A minor girl, Nirdesh Singh (16), resident of Ahmadabad village, in Etah district was shot at by unidentified cattle thieves as she spotted them trying to take away her cattle from the barn in the backyard of her house. They fled the spot leaving the young girl lying in a pool of blood. Local villagers and farmers had held massive protests against this, for which they were lathicharged by police.
When: 1 June 2016
Where: Etah District, Uttar Pradesh
8. What took place: 55 year old Data Ram, a chowkidar at Chak Lateef Imamgarh village, who tipped off the Police about cow slaughters and incidents of cruelty toward the animal died after he was attacked by two youngsters with a stone. Ram who was returning home with two stray cows that were handed to him by the police who recovered them in an open field and suspected they were meant for slaughtering, was killed on suspicion of being a police informer.
When: 3 June 2016
Where: Azamgarh, Lucknow
9. What took place: Unidentified bovine smugglers mowed down Dalit man, Dinesh Kumar (35) of Jaatav community and resident of Pilkhatar Jait village to steal his cattle, killing him on the spot.
When: 19 June 2016
Where: Agra, Uttar Pradesh
10. What took place: Police officer crushed to death by cattle smugglers. 56-year-old Triloki Tiwari, a head constable who had just been promoted to the post of sub-inspector , along with two constables was inspecting vehicles and signalled a cattle loaded vehicle coming their way to stop. The smugglers chose to run the van over him and escape.
When: 5 August, 2016
Where: Jaunpur,Uttar Pradesh
As we can see, those who protect the cow (a crucial asset for many rural families and the rural economy) become the victims of murderous crimes too. This gives rise to a circle of violence and grave crimes, with some groups exploiting the situation to their advantage.
We need to stand up against this violence as strongly as we do against the criminals masquerading as cow protectors. Both feed each other and both have no place in a civilised society.