Mustafa Qureshi is a troubled man. On July 27, two trucks carrying 44 bulls of his were reportedly stopped by Gau Rakshaks at Patancheru and his cattle were seized and sent to the Ziaguda cow shelter. On September 3, another set of 28 bulls which were brought to the city were seized by the police at a check post near Chotuppal and sent to the same cow shelter.
“As it is, I was running in circles at the Sangareddy court to get the bulls that were caught in July released. And now, just 10 days before Bakrid, I lost more animals which I was bringing to Hyderabad for slaughter,” said a distraught Mustafa. In both cases, he mentioned, he was booked for carrying more animals than permitted in a truck.
“Once the cattle go into the shelters, there is no telling how the animals are treated. Often they die as well. Moreover, I have to pay the shelter Rs.250 per day, per animal since the time of the seizure,” Mustafa said. He added that in the past too he faced similar problems, but the situation has escalated to unseen levels now.
Cattle traders said that though the issue of Gau Rakshaks stopping trucks carrying their animals is highlighted only around Bakrid, this problem persists throughout the year, due to which they suffer huge losses. “The police on the city outskirts are cooperative. But we face problems while getting cattle into the city from other districts or outskirts. It is highlighted during Bakrid as the general public also buy cattle for slaughter,” stated Hashim Qureshi, vice-president, Jamiatul Quresh, Secunderabad.
The cattle trade business has now become a market seeing a daily turnover of at least Rs.25 crore, thanks to exports, said Mustafa, who has been selling animals for ver a decade.
Both he and Hashim said that there are weekly markets at Narsingi, Shankerpalli, Sangareddy, Kohir, Erragadda and other places, which do business of about Rs.2 crore daily.
In Mustafa’s case, his cattle seized in July were worth Rs.11.2 lakh, while those seized last week were worth more than Rs.3 lakh, he said. The beef trade in the city is mainly an occupation of members of the Qureshi community. A few other traders, unwilling to be identified, agreed with both Hashim and Mustafa and said that many have incurred huge losses in the past due to interference of Gau Rakshaks.
When contacted, senior officials from both the Cybderabad (East and West) and Hyderabad police said that strict orders have been given to ensure that Gau Rakshaks do not take law into their hands.
A senior official said, “The law is very clear. Animals cannot be below three years of age and should have a certificate from the Animal Husbandry department that it is fit for slaughter. Over-loading them in a truck is also an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act”.
“No vigilante groups can function. We have asked our officers to videograph proceedings. Border check posts have been set up in all surrounding districts of Hyderabad,” said Akun Sabharwal, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Hyderabad Range. He added that the all staff has been told to shift seized animals to the nearest shelters, and not to far-off places.