Lucknow: Angry over cattle menace, villagers in Sitapur district locked a large herd of stray cattle inside dozens of primary schools and anganwadi centres after the animals damaged standing wheat crop on Sunday. They subsequently staged a protest and tried to stop the police from releasing them, demanding shelter for the strays.
The farmers also blocked the Delhi-Lucknow national highway, shouted slogans against the government and alleged that the authorities concerned have done nothing to curtail the growing menace of stray cattle. Later, the administration rushed to the spot to listen to the plight of farmers. The officials who reached the spot described themselves as well-wishers of the farmers. The BDOs of Maholi and Pisawan village assured the farmers in writing that they would send or preserve the cows of all the villages in the shelter, but even after 48 hours, not a single step has been taken in that direction.
A farmer who was protesting against the cattle menace but did not wish to be identified, said, “We just want the stray cattle to be kept out of our village as they are destroying our crops, attacking local residents, and disturbing our lives. We can’t feed them and the government should prepare a shelter house for them. We wanted to send a loud and clear message but the police are harassing us when we raise our voices. We want to resolve this issue at the earliest,” he told NewsClick, adding that farmers of the Awadh region are upset with the cattle menace and they will cast their vote against the ruling government as they failed to fulfil its promises.
Farmer leader Shyamu Shukla who was leading the protest said that the farmers of Pisawan block locked up about 1,540 stray cattle in twenty-four villages including Puraina, Amaria, Tavindanagar, Sansda, Deoria, Fakharpur, Gadasa, Malha, Kutuvapur.
However, about 300 cattle were locked in 13 villages including Sitarampur, Laxmanpur, Raghuvardayalpur, Silhapur, Mahuaakola, Dhakia Parsehra, Kunwarpurgaddi of Maholi block. About 40 cows have been tied on the Mahuaakola bridge. A maximum of 160 cows were locked in Puraina village.
Farmers in Uttar Pradesh also face the problem of stray cows damaging their crops and have been demanding immediate solutions.
Last week, a group of farmers in the Turkipur village of Aurraiya district staged a protest against the menace of stray cattle after driving them into a government school and locking them there.
According to the locals, the cows were ruining the crops by roaming in their farmlands.
"There are a lot of cows in the area but there are no cow shelters. They were roaming in the farmlands and ruining the crops. Therefore, a bunch of villagers decided to lock the cows in the government school premises," said one of the locals.
The farmers warned that they would continue doing so until the officials solved the problem permanently.
“The stray cattle not only destroy our crop but also attack people, especially children. The officials refuse to take remedial steps and we have no option but to lock them in school,” said Abhimanyu, one of the villagers.
According to the 2019 livestock census, there were nearly 1.16 million stray cattle in the state. Out of these, about 750,000 had been either kept in shelters, gaushalas or been adopted as part of a state government scheme and the rest remained stray. Farmers have been complaining of stray cattle entering their fields and destroying the standing crop.
Ram Kumar Shukla of Socialist Kisan Sabha who organised dozens of protests against cattle menace in Uttar Pradesh told NewsClick, “Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath showed his love on many occasions for cows, he is often feeding them jaggery but he never bothered to address the farmers issues,” he said, adding that “If the Yogi government is really concerned and committed for cow conservation, it should have a plan and strategy to maintain the cowsheds, which unfortunately is not happening,” he alleged.
The farmers alleged the stray cattle menace was adding to their woes. “We are already facing several issues of outstanding payment for sugarcane, high electricity bills expensive fuel and less minimum support price on crops. And with the crops being ruined by stray cattle, our problems have aggravated. We had no option but resort to such a step,” said one of the farmers on condition of anonymity.
According to the official data, there are over 5,268 cow protection centres that have, till now, ensured the wellbeing of as many as 5,73,417 cattle in the state. About 4,64,311 cows in both, villages and cities, have been kept at 4,529 temporary cow shelters.