UP: Stray Cattle Menace Allegedly Pushes Farmer to Suicide
Representational Image. Image Courtesy: special arrangement
Lucknow: A 35-year-old farmer of Karbana village of Tajganj area in Agra district, the sole breadwinner of four families, died by suicide on Sunday night by hanging himself from a peepal tree on his farm, allegedly after stray animals destroyed his crops bajra (pearl millet) cultivated in 1.5 bigha of land.
The deceased is survived by three young children, including two unmarried daughters. According to his family members, he used to often spend his time in the fields to protect his crop from stray cattle.
The family members confirmed to NewsClick, that Pawan Kumar was in a state of shock after destruction of his crop. They said that he was heavily in debt and was reeling under pressure to pay it off, which he hoped to do through earnings from the bajra crop.
On Saturday evening, he came home for dinner, and by the time he went back, his entire crop had been trampled upon and destroyed by over 20 stray cattle.
“My husband could not bear the shock and suffered as he put all the money he had and his efforts," deceased wife Devaki told NewsClick over the phone.
Annoyed over persistent damage caused to their crops by stray cattle, several farmers having allegiance to the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) on Monday morning staged a protest with stray cattle loaded on tractor trolleys.
The farmers were adamant about releasing stray cattle on the district administration's office premises. They were, however, stopped on the outskirts of the town and were pacified by the local authorities after talks.
The farmers have appealed to the district administration to provide financial assistance to the family.
Shyam Singh Chahar, a farmer leader in Agra said that the BJP-led UP government has promised to have a plan in place to tackle the stray cattle menace within one year but the government has not taken any steps to help the farmers who have been struggling financially. Singh said that even after repeated requests made to the State government, the menace of stray cattle continued to haunt them.
“Stray cattle destroy our standing crops and have become a serious threat to human lives in several cases, but we are helpless. Be it sugarcane, wheat, potato, or seasonal vegetables, stray cattle damage the crop in almost every season. The State government should take some concrete steps to solve the problem otherwise with no option left farmers will commit suicide,” he told NewsClick.
“We have received information regarding the death of a farmer by heart attack following crop loss caused by stray animals. A tehsil staff was sent to meet the family and suitable action will be taken based on the report," Bhupendra Kumar Baiyan, SHO Tajganj told NewsClick.
Abandoned cattle and animals reared by cattle owners continue to create problems for residents, particularly farmers. Farmers claim that unregulated grazing of cattle on roads not only damages plant saplings, and nearby crops in fields, it also leads to road accidents.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during the UP Assembly elections early this year, had made a promise at an election rally in Unnao that
a plan to tackle the issue of ‘chutta jaanvar (stray cattle)’ would be rolled out after March 10 results, if the BJP was voted back to power in Uttar Pradesh.
It may be noted that after coming to power in 2017, the Yogi Adityanath government banned illegal cattle slaughter, making it punishable. Since then, many farmers have been complaining of crop losses due to stray cattle menace.
Meanwhile, news of farmers locking large herds of stray cattle inside primary schools and Anganwadi centres after the animals damaged standing crops and seasonal vegetables have become a routine affair in Uttar Pradesh. Several protests were held and they tried to stop the police from releasing cattle, demanding shelter for the strays but nothing seems to be have worked in their favour so far.
A year ago, too, a 52-year-old farmer had died by suicide.
There are several cases where farmers died by suicide after their crop was damaged by stray cattle, but even after six months of the formation of the new government, no step has been taken so far to tackle the menace, Prem Singh, a farmer from Banda, told NewsClick.
As per reports, Chief Minister Adityanath will soon unveil a plan to curb the continuing growing cattle menace in the state.
As per plan, there is a provision for shelters within 100 days to accommodate up to 50,000 stray cattle, going up to one lakh in six months; construction of at least 50 mega cow shelters; cow sanctuaries across the state. Besides, each district magistrate has been given the target of ensuring shelter for at least 10 stray cows per day starting April 15.
"We have been hearing about the plan for so long and as per government strategy, this should start rolling out from April but it is September now, where are these officers working?" asked the BKU leader.
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