Probe reveals dirty, cruel secrets of India’s gaushalas

Gaushalas seem to be running as dairies in disguise, with rampant malpractices leading to severe suffering of bovines, untrained staff and crumbing under their own weight without adequate government support or necessary infrastructure to use waste products like gobar or gaumutra [cow urine] for income generation,” noted a first of its kind report following a national investigation.

Gau Gaatha

Dairies in disguise
  • Report by animal welfare outfit reveals that gaushalas treat cows like machines
  • 66% Gaushalas separated cows and calves
  • 86% Bred the animals
  • 26% Tied hind legs of cows during milking

Titled ‘Gau Gaatha’, the report was released by animal protection organisation Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) on September 4. The report said the investigation revealed extremely worrisome conditions at bovine care centres in 13 States and two Union Territories.

“Such dreadful conditions are against the backdrop of the rhetoric of cow protection from various sections of society, which have gained popularity over the last several years,” said the report.

A key issue that emerged during the investigation was that of financial sustainability — something that most gaushalas faced. The report noted that only a handful of gaushalas received minimal, if any, government support. Others depended on donations from people or religious institutions, or on sale of milk and milk products. This, the report said, led to employing cruel practices and making them no different from dairies milking for profit.

‘Harsh reality’

FIAPO executive director Varda Mehrotra said: “Historically, most Indians have held a compassionate view towards bovines — setting up gaushalas for their care and enacting laws for their protection. However, it has become clear from our investigation that rhetoric and reality continue to be divorced, and that most gaushalas provide care that is little better than dairies, employing similar cruel practices. The few that do not are crumbling under their own weight without adequate support from the government. With no training or support, taking life-long responsibility of thousands of animals has spelt doom for them. We need to wake up to the harsh reality of how we are really treating bovines in India.”

Severe confinement
  • 50% Gaushalas tied up the animals using ropes less than 1-metre long, preventing them from even being able to lift their heads
  • 76% Kept animals tied most of the day
  • 50% Did not use by-products like cow dung and urine

The report called for urgent and strict implementation of existing laws on animal welfare as well as urban governance.

It also highlighted the need for additional regulation in select areas, where there are significant violations of law and policy pertaining to animal welfare. The FIAPO has demanded immediate action by the Centre and State governments to support these facilities and to stand by their promises of caring for cows.

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Printable version | Oct 16, 2020 6:27:03 PM |

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