Cattle smuggling menace becoming a threat to life and livelihood of small farmers across India

A fresh incident of cattle smuggling has been reported in Barada, Haryana. According to reports, cattle thieves stole 3 buffaloes belonging to one Krishna Chouhan in Ugala village. The thieves reportedly entered the cattle shed late on Monday night and took away 3 buffaloes worth Rs 2 lakh. When the owner Krishna Chouhan tried to stop them, they even threatened him with guns.

In another incident, on Sunday night a group of cattle smugglers fired upon a police vehicle chasing them near Ambala and managed to escape. It is reportedly the second such incident in the area. In the first incident, smugglers had attacked with stones and injured one ASI Om Prakash. In both the incidents, the smuggling vehicle had no number plates.

Incidents of rampant cattle smuggling and violence by cattle thieves have been constantly reported, but often fail to get an adequate response. In another similar incident in UP just a day ago, cattle thieves had reportedly stolen buffaloes of a local home guard in Meerganj area. They took away the buffalo in a pickup vehicle after threatening the owner with guns.

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A day prior to the Meerganj incident, in the Sumera village near Aligarh, a mob of Muslim men had reportedly targeted, beaten up and fired upon a person named Dhananjay Pandit. Pandit had stopped a truck full of chickens and had asked for the papers for chicken trading and slaughter license, which the owners did not have. A mob of Muslim men from the same village had then gathered up and started threatening and beating up Pandit. They even fired upon Pandit. The police had to pacify the mob fearing the incident might lead up to communal violence.

Cattle smuggling has been an absolute menace in small towns and villages across the country. In a recent report, it was stated that the state of West Bengal is losing almost Rs 100 crores a month due to failure to stop illegal cattle trafficking. Even police officials of certain northern districts were accused of providing a safe passage to smugglers to ferry cattle through the Bangladesh border. Last year in September, the smugglers had fired and killed a BSF jawan at the India-Bangladesh border.

In Odisha last year, a group of tourists were brutally attacked and several women were molested when they tried to stop a band of cattle thieves from beating and torturing the animals.

These cattle smugglers are always armed and bold enough to take risks. As evident by the above incidents, they do not hesitate to attack and even kill anyone who tries to resist. In mainstream media, these incidences are often under-reported, save instances when the farmers and victims retaliate and attack the smugglers. Because then it gets a biased narrative of ‘cow vigilantism’. Media and even authorities often fail to realise that cattle are expensive and the livelihoods of farming families are dependent upon them.

Not only these smugglers are creating a massive loss of revenue, their rising attacks are putting the livelihoods and even lives of the farmers at risk. There is an urgent need to launch a widespread crackdown on cattle smugglers ensuring strict and quick punishment for the perpetrators.

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