Waiting to See What Happens Next

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Hafeez Naumani

It was about one month ago as well that we heard complaints from Lakhimpur that domesticated cows, bullocks, buffalos were roaming free in sugarcane fields and destroying crops there.

Farmers in the area had complained that as regards the neelgai [Asian antelope] because it is scared of human beings and when humans come in its sight it runs away. However, bullocks, buffalos and bulls are domesticated animals and are accustomed to be beaten and chased away to make them leave the farms.

It was during those days that my son and grandson had to travel to Khajna, a well known village of Barabanki, to view a piece of land to buy where they noticed that bamboo sticks and rope fences had been erected around all the farms there. They thought that these fences were meant to stop herds of neelgais from entering the farms. But they were told that as far as the neelgais were concerned they can be scared away easily but the new curse has come in the form of the animals that are domesticated and they do not go away until they are beaten but this being a Muslim majority village who would be naive enough and dare hit a cow here?

And now there comes a news from Lakhimpur of something that should have happened  much earlier: In a village known as Slethu in Nakha blocks of Lakhimpur, one school has been turned into an animal sanctuary and hundreds of stray cows, bullocks, buffalos and bulls have been herded up and locked up in there while the students from the school have been sent home and the staff have been made to sit outside the school as guards.

The farmers of the fields that get trampled and ruined by these stray animals that come in there in hoards and use their fields as the grazing pastures want a permanent solution to their problem. Having lived within human population these animals do not feel threatened by them and do not run away  when threatened while there are no gaushalas [cow sanctuaries] or any ponds to be locked in there by the authorities anywhere in the surrounding areas.

There was once a period when the Hindus had started calling neelgai as a relative of ‘Mother cow’. But only after a little later when these neelgais had started rampaging and destroying hundreds of bighas of crops were they renamed ‘Neelghora’.

There was once a period when the Hindus had started calling neelgai as a relative of ‘Mother cow’. But only after a little later when these neelgais had started rampaging and destroying hundreds of bighas of crops were they renamed ‘Neelghora’.

Earlier to hit or kill it, was treated as a crime then the government started providing the farmers with guns and cartridges to get them killed in droves. In areas where the government did not adopt this policy, the farmers themselves provided the hunters with money for cartridges and invited them to kill the neelgais in their villages and distribute the meat among Muslims.

The situation today in Chhattisgarh is that the obese Chief Minister has proposed that anyone who kills a cow should be hanged meanwhile in gaushalas of his province more than 500 cows have died simply of starvation. Is it that when a cow is in the possession of a Muslim that it becomes a mother or a goddess only?

This government has a budget of crores of rupees for gaushalas merely to fool the public. This budget is enough to keep every cow in the province fed to full and made healthier than the Chief Minister himself but the  minister for gaushalas and his workers do not spend even a 10%  of the budget for cows because they know well that these cows are destined to die anyway whether they are fed well or not at all. Why then spend money on them?

I started my discussion from the Lakhimpur scenario where the farmers there have taken a desperate step and have done so after being forced to do so because their crops got destroyed  by the stray cows  within minutes. Dozens of these farmers have been forced to take this extreme decision to keep these animals locked inside the school building until a final solution is found by the government.

The government has sealed off abattoirs in all the cities and towns while these stray animals have full freedom to roam around as they will.

The government should legislate making it compulsory for the owners of  these stray animals to keep them with themselves until even after they become useless. Otherwise it should establish animal  sanctuaries where a cow or bullock owner can leave his/her animal and get an official receipt certifying that they have left their animals there.

The above narrative belongs only to  one Block while the Yogi administration has not yet completed even six months of its prospective tenure. Until it completes its tenure, the most important issues of the state will then remaining neither be the electricity, water, housing and nor roads. The only issue  then will be the stray animals overcrowding the streets and the dead animals in every village killed by the farmers themselves.

Every farmer or the owner of an orchard shares the nature that if someone asks him for a sugarcane he would pick the best sugar cane  to give to the one who asks for it but if someone himself plucks off a sugarcane he reacts angrily. Or if you ask for a mango in a mango orchard the owner or the keeper would probably give ten mangos in return but if you take a mango yourself then he would not hesitate even to strike and thump at your head.

This is why the farmers have made the school as a pond for the hundreds of stray animals barricaded by bamboos and ropes in the school and have informed the officers. So far not even a single officer is reported to have inspected the place. But even if they go there, what would they do? Neither these animals belong to the police nor are the properties of the education department. And those who have thrown them out to roam around have done so because they have become useless for them.

We are told that cow’s urine and dung is a panacea for every ailment. If that is so, then why are these poor animals abandoned? Hunger is something that makes everyone, even human beings, desperate then why would hungry animals not go crazy? According to Lakhimpur residents when they try to scare away these animals from their farms they  become angry and attack them instead.

The issue belongs only to and has to be resolved by Yogi and Amit Shah themselves. One lakh or two lakhs, whatever be the number of such stray animals in UP,  every year this count will go up in numbers by the day and will then need to be herded up in schools, hospitals and government offices to name a place .

The Chief Minister has already stated that abandoned animals were creating nuisance and that the problem had to be resolved for which everyone needed to share the responsibility. The Chief Minister asked the youths in the auditorium how far was it justified to let the cows roam on the streets after having been benefitted by its milk? ‘We have been receiving complaints from villages and MLAs are being asked to build gaushalas at village level. But the question is that you drink cows’ milk and ask the government to build gausahalas and arrange for their fodder and clean their dung as well’ he said.

This is not a new situation. In the olden days when motorcycles had not been invented, every well-to-do person used to have a horse for movement. In every police station they used to have a stable to safely keep horses. Now motor vehicles have replaced horses while horses are now found and used only in the army.

In our country buffalo is the replacement of a cow with the limitation that a buffalo cannot be kept like a cow. When a cow or a buffalo ceases to produce milk , their owners sell them and putting some more money with what they get from the sale buy a new animal. As the government has outlawed this practice  then it falls to them as well to remedy the situation thus created. The government is now required to allow legally any owner of a cow, buffalo or an ox to sell his/her useless animal to anyone they like with the clause that the buyer also would be free to use the animal he buys as he likes. If the government puts limitations then it has no moral authority as well  to ask the public to share the responsibility in solving the problem that ails them all.

Hundreds of years ago when the country was being ruled by Hindus there was not such a problem there and later in the intervening years as well the nature of the problem remained the same but it did not make any hue and cry from anywhere . There is no  point in asking a question again and again the answer to which is the same and that we have known and practiced before.

Translated by Urdu Media Monitor.Com from daily Jadid Khabar, 2 September 2017

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