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In Yogi’s UP, stray cattle turn into farmers’ foes
Ever since the UP government imposed a ban on illegal slaughterhouses and the Centre passed a bill regulating cow trade, the sale and purchase of cattle has completely stopped in the region
Suraj, a farmer in Bhaulli village in Hamirpur district, suffered a heart attack on Saturday morning after he found that his crop has been devoured by stray cattle. Ballu, his son, said that his father had returned from field on Friday after keeping a watch on the crop so that stray cattle could not damage his produce. But when he reached his field on Saturday morning, he found that all the crop was devoured by the stray animals. “He was too shocked and fell unconscious. We took him to the hospital where the doctors declared him dead,” he told local reporters in Hamirpur.
This is not a solitary incident. In Basti, in eastern UP, a farmer was shot dead by his neighbour on July 18 after the latter alleged that former had willfully allowed his cattle to go astray and damage standing crops. There have been quite a few such cases where the stray animals have damaged crop, resulting in either fights among neighbours or death of farmers.
Stray cattle have become such a nuisance that in Banda, villagers herded the stray animals that were damaging crops into a school compound and locked them there demanding that the Yogi Adityanath government make arrangements for these animals.
This is not the first time such protests have been reported from parts of Uttar Pradesh where cow protection has turned the stray animals into enemies of farmers. Increasing menace of stray cattle is giving sleepless nights to the farmers who are finding it hard to protect their crop because of Yogi’s cow vigilante groups which are on the prowl. Villagers in Sibathu village in Bahraich district, too, shepherded animals into a school and locked them in the compound.
Professor RK Yadav of the department of Genetics and Plant Breeding, CS Azad University of Agriculture and Technology, Kanpur, said rampaging herds of abandoned and unproductive cattle are creating havoc in the fields. Moving from one field to the other, they are virtually running over the standing crops causing huge losses to farmers.
The animals stayed there for three days. The teachers took classes outside the school compound. “The stray animals are now a big threat to farmers. These animals are not only damaging crops but also injuring people. The villagers are forced to keep stray cattle barricaded in the school in order to send their message to the administration.
The stray animals have destroyed crops, be it sugarcane or pulse but there is no one to protect us,” Anil Chaudhry, office-bearer of Uttar Pradesh Gram Pradhan Association, said in a letter to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. “We want all the cattle to be kept in a shelter or to be left in a place other than the roads and our fields,” he said. “We have made several attempts and put forward our plight in front of the administration but no action has been taken by them,” he added.
Ever since the UP government imposed a ban on illegal slaughterhouses and the Centre passed a bill regulating cow trade, the sale and purchase of cattle has completely stopped in the region. Traditional cattle fairs are no longer being held. In the absence of a market, farmers are being forced to free the animals which are of no use to them.
“What good is gau raksha if it brings destruction to farmers,” asks Chaudhry. Professor RK Yadav of the department of Genetics and Plant Breeding, CS Azad University of Agriculture and Technology, Kanpur, said rampaging herds of abandoned and unproductive cattle are creating havoc in the fields. Moving from one field to the other, they are virtually running over the standing crops causing huge losses to farmers.
Despite their best efforts, the farmers, who are keeping a round-the-clock vigil on their fields to keep the unwanted animals at bay, are not being able to protect the crops. Small and marginal farmers are bearing the brunt of the stray cattle menace. “Apart from damage to crops, the increasing number of stray cattle is becoming a big nuisance for motorists on the roads and often causing accidents,” he said. The Chief Minister had said that government will set up 27 pastures where these stray animals can be kept. But when will these pastures come up? That is the point.