Stray cattle might come in the way of BJP in western U.P.

Even as the SP makes it a poll plank, Adityanath calls them ‘homeless cattle’

Updated - February 07, 2022 11:28 am IST

Published - February 07, 2022 08:09 am IST - Ghaziabad

A bull strolling aside the Aligarh-Mathura state highway.

A bull strolling aside the Aligarh-Mathura state highway.

In the Gulaothi town of Bulandshahr, Puneet Chaudhary, a Jat farmer, is agitated about the rise of stray cattle in the region. “I caught a bull, neutered it, and used it in the cart. Kuchh toh fayda mile [At least I would get some benefit],” he said.

Wiring the farm, he said, was no solution. “Earlier, we could sell our old cows and ox in the monthly animal market but under the BJP rule that income is ruled out.”

For Mohammed Ehtram of Sitapur district, spending nights on a machan has become a routine affair. “Except for potato and mustard crops, stray cattle spare nothing..they somehow enter the field.”

In Aligarh, pharma executive Dinesh Kumar said driving from Aligarh to Mathura at night was fraught with danger. “There are hardly any street lights and you never know when you would find stray cattle on roads,” he said.

Observers feel the issue of stray cattle is going to affect the outcome of the upcoming polls.

Responding to the noises from the ground, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav made a bull attack a poll plank and promised ₹5 lakh to those killed by a rampaging bull. On Saturday, in Aligarh, Mr. Yadav said for four-and-a-half years, the public is being troubled by the bull. “We will remove both the bull and bulldozer,” he said.

Viral memes

Memes of CM Yogi Adityanath as a bull are being shared by the IT cell of the party. In the Chhata constituency of Mathura, Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Jayant Singh said under the BJP rule, farmers were left protecting their crops with a torch in one hand and a stick in another. Mr. Singh asks, “Who are those Jats whom the BJP is wooing as the Jat farmers are busy driving out bulls from farms.”

On the other hand, Adityanath cites the closure of illegal slaughterhouses as one of his government’s biggest achievements in his speeches. In his interactions with the media, he describes stray cattle as homeless cattle.

According to official reports, 1.03 lakh stray cows have been adopted by 56,853 people in U.P. The State gives ₹900 per month per cattle to those who have adopted cattle.

However, farmers say the cost of fodder is ₹1,400 per quintal in rural areas and up to ₹2,000 in urban areas and that most of the promises are on paper. Protection centres lack proper structures, and most importantly the cattle is let out at night, are some of the charges that one came across in the region.

In the Jat belt, the newly formed gaushalas have created a social tussle. A section of the community felt that it has become a revenue model for Brahmins and Vaishyas. They said cars and autos are hired by these gaushalas to collect ₹1 and food in the name of cows. “Jat farmers don’t need any moral guidance on how to manage their cattle,” said Mr. Singh.

The fear of strict implementation of law and the rise of gau rakshaks has made it difficult for Muslims to tend cows.

“Cows are less expensive than buffaloes... but you can’t sell a cow or a calf. Most let them out because they cannot feed them. It is the same for all the small farmers but Muslim farmers are being targeted,” said Akhtar Ali a farmer from Mathura.

Observers said the gau rakshaks have emerged as vigilantes who, in collusion with the local police, take a cut for providing safe passage to bovine-laden trucks. Even some MLAs of the ruling party faced the charge of patronising such elements.

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