TNN Exclusive by
— Shabab Khan
. . . this is why people from Hindu Community worship Cows. Photo: Anjali, Benares.
Farmers in Maharashtra and Haryana are increasingly abandoning their unproductive cattle they earlier sold to buy new livestock. This, after their states promulgated the beef ban and right-wing groups got active to save the ‘Gauvansh’.
Kishore Tiwari, director of Vasant Rao Naik Shetkari Swavlamban Mission (VNSSM), a Maharashtra government think tank on farmers’ issue, concedes the ban has put farmers in a fix. “Unless the old pair is sold, the farmer doesn’ have money for a new one. Maintenance of unproductive cattle is an issue.
“An indicator of the shift was this year’s Pola festival in Maharashtra, a traditional event where bullocks are worshipped. “I observed a clear fall in the number of animals brought for display. Many farmers couldn’t buy new pairs,” Tiwari says. Tiwari was appointed VNSSM director by the Devendra Fadnavis government, which extended the beef ban to cover bulls and bullocks. Sarpanch of Bembli in Osmanbad district Balasaheb Kanse explains the farmers’ predicament. “We can neither sell nor maintain our livestock. If an animal dies, we have pay Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000 to bury the carcass. People somehow get water to drink, but getting water for cattle is tougher,” says Kanse.
The situation is no different in other states. In UP’s Bundelkhand, a third consecutive crop failure has forced farmers to return to the custom of ‘anna pratha’ -abandoning family bovines at the state borders. The state government and VHP have incentives to discourage farmers from following this tradition. The stray cattle problem has increased the load on gaushalas which now struggle to tackle the increased load. “We can’t bear the additional burden. Gaushalas are run on donations. We don’t get any government assistance and have limitations. The government needs to give assistance,” says Ramprasad Lakhotiya, trustee of Guru Ganesh Go Raksha Samiti,Latur, adding that Rs 100 is the minimum needed every day for a cow’s upkeep.
Losses on running shelter homes for bovines notwithstanding, gaushalas across the country are united on saving cows from slaughter. Dharam Raj Ranka, involved with the Satyam Shivam Sundaram Gau Seva Kendra, the biggest of Hyderabad’s 45 gaushalas, says: “This is an abode for more than 5,000 cows and calves. Most of them were rescued while on their way to illegal slaughter houses,” he says, “however feeding them is a problem.”
Varanasi, holy city of temples, you can’t even imagine to eat beef. Here, in the name of beef old bony Buffaloes are slaughtered and people buy it and eat it, nobody think about cow meat because in UP this ban is old enough to damage any economy. Yet, reality is far from satisfaction for cow worshipper or animal lover like me, I see Hindus are oblivious, yet as I believe God has given me some of kinda integrated sensor in me, to understand animals, to feel their pain, the driving force to help an animal in pain is always so overwhelming that I don’t consider the surrounding crowd stares with awe, on the contrary in Varanasi while rescuing a dog or calf most of the time people came forward and joined me for assistance. After all, this is Mecca of Hindus.
Cows are everywhere in Varanasi.
Tourists while walking on Roads, Streets, Lanes, Alleys do feel a cushion under their feet, they don’t understand but Hindustani like me take no time to understand what underneath is several dozens layer of cow dung, with little combination of ‘spatting of Paan’s fluid’, broken earthen cups people sip tea in.
Allow me to be realistic now, here in Varanasi ‘Go Daan’ is made, pilgrims daan cow to Pandits- man who has direct connection with God. Besides, other people keep cows for milk to sell. When a cow is crossed the productive period, masters or sons of bovine abandon them. Rest of the life these cows live on roads, and spend a very miserable life in too cold and too hot whether. You can see these old cows all around the city, looking for food.
Is it a way to treat one’s mother?
(Inputs from Hishir Arya in Nagpur, Syed Rizwanullah in Aurangabad, Prabeer Sikdar in Hyderabad and Swati Mathur in Lucknow)
(Author is an Export Entrepreneur, Journalist, and Social Activist