Recently, a government-aided private shelter run by a local BJP leader in Durg district in Chhattisgarh reported the deaths of at least 27 cows. Taking stock of the situation, NewsClick decided to visit Gopal Gaushala (cow shelter) in Meerut.
Workers at the shelter, that is situated on the Meerut-Delhi road, said they do not get any funds from the government to run it effectively. The shelter mostly depends on public donations and the earnings they get by from selling the cow’s milk.
Interestingly, the Gau Rakshaks and the police have been leaving the cows, seized by them, at the mercy of the shelter owners without paying them a single penny to feed the cattle. “The Gau Rakshaks and the police force us to accept the cows. They threaten us if we dare to refuse because of the existing overcrowding of the cattle in the shelter,” said Ramesh Yadav, a worker of the shelter.
Left with no option, Yadav said, they have to accept the cows, despite the fact that the shelters are already overcrowded. “We have to accept the cows because if we refuse, we will have to face their wrath. If we refuse, where will these cows go?” he asked.
He categorically said, that neither do the shelter receive any monetary help from the government or district administration, nor from any of the the cow vigilantes, in the name of cow protection. “The shelter is purely dependent on public fundings and what we get by selling the milk. We do not have any fund from the government,” Yadav added.
When asked about their thoughts on the cow vigilantes and whether they are serving any cause, Yadav said, “They can be called nothing but goons. They extract money in the name of cow protection. Those who pay them are allowed to smuggle the cattle and those who do not, are thrashed publicly. No one can be allowed to take the law in their hands, in the name of cow protection.”
The self-proclaimed ‘cow protectors’ have unleashed violence in several parts of the country. Their victims mostly include minority and socially disadvantaged communities.
Mohammad Akhlaq was brutally lynched to death on September 28, 2015 at Dadri in Gautam Budh Nagar, following a rumour that cow meat in stored in his fridge. Abdul Ghaffar Qureshi was thrashed to death on May 30, 2015 near Nagaur in Rajasthan for selling meat. And they do not intend to stop soon either.
Incidents of cow vigilantism have been reported from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Jharkhand over the past three years. Deaths related to cow vigilantism have also been reported from South India. Praveen Pujari, a local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, was allegedly beaten to death by Hindu Jagrana Vedike workers for transporting cattle at Karjike in Udupi district.
A mob comprising people from right-wing groups hurled petrol bombs at a truck driven by one Zahid Bhat in Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir, on October 9, 2015. He was suspected of transporting cattle. Bhat, who succumbed to his injuries, was actually carrying coal.
A resident of Uttar Pradesh was beaten to death at Sarahan in Himachal Pradesh on October 14, 2015, over suspicion that he along with his friends, who were also brutally thrashed, was smuggling cows.
Bajrang dal and Shiv Sena workers allegedly attacked a group of Banjara tribals at Relmagra village in Rajasthan’s Rajsamand on October 6, 2016 when they were returning to their village with half-a-dozen bulls purchased in a cattle fair.
On July 27, 2016, two women belonging to the Muslim community were reportedly beaten up by members of cow vigilante groups, at Mandsaur railway station in Madhya Pradesh over suspicion of carrying beef.
A Muslim couple travelling in Kushinagar Express at Khirkiya railway station was attacked by right-wing extremists on January 15, 2016. Their belongings were searched on the suspicion, that they were carrying beef.
Two Muslim cattle traders were lynched by suspected cow vigilante groups at Latehar in Jharkhand on March 23, 2016.
A cow vigilante group stripped and thrashed four Dalit skinners on July 11, 2016, at Una in Gujarat.
Two trucks carrying 44 bulls were allegedly stopped by self-proclaimed Gau Rakshaks at Patancheru in Telangana on July 27, 2016. The cattle were sent to the Ziaguda cow shelter.
A person belonging to Kondageri village in Kodagu district was assaulted on September 13, 2016, by a group of 20 persons, when he was returning with two oxen from Koggodu village. The allegation was he had stolen the cattle.
A video emerged in Delhi on June 10, 2017, that showed suspected cattle transporters forcibly eating cow dung so that they could be “purified from the sin they had committed”. The video in question, was shot by the so-called Gau Raksha Dal that operated near the Faridabad border.
Cow vigilantes sealed Hotel Hayat Rabbani in Jaipur, Rajasthan, for about six hours on March 21, 2017, after reports started to circulate that the hotel was serving beef to its customers.
Vigilantes created ruckus at Bhubaneswar railway station in Orissa on May 26, 2017 by attacking two persons, who were legally transporting 20 milch cows.
A man was allegedly thrashed by four persons reportedly associated with right-wing groups at Gulvady village in Karnataka’s Udupi district on June 5, 2017. He was transporting two cows with valid legal documents.
A group of at least 50 people attacked Tamil Nadu government’s Animal Husbandry Department’s staff and officials at Barmer in Rajasthan on June 12, 2017 on suspicion of cattle smuggling.
Alimuddin, also known as Asghar Ansari, was beaten to death on June 29, 2017, by a group of people who accused him of carrying beef in his car, which they set on fire, in Ramgarh district of Jharkhand.
Three days before the incident, a dairy owner was attacked by a 1,000-strong mob in the state and his home was set on fire following the recovery of carcass of a cow near his house.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are the author's personal views, and do not necessarily represent the views of Newsclick.