At a time when a controversy rages over cow slaughter and beef consumption across the country, police in Madhya Pradesh’s Chhindwara district have donned the mantle of gau rakshaks and gau sewaks or cow protectors and caretakers.
To prevent cows rescued from cattle smugglers from starving to death, the Chhindwara police have set up a chaaraa or fodder bank, district police chief GK Pathak said.
Last week, the first fodder bank was set up at two rooms in the Lodhikhera police station to ensure that rescued cows don’t starve to death before the animals are shifted to one of the five cow shelters in the district, he told Hindustan Times.
The initiative will be replicated at the Parasiya police station on Monday and followed by setting up similar fodder banks at other police stations of the district, he said.
“We plan to set up at least one chaaraa bank in each of the seven police sub-divisions within the next few weeks with fund given to us by the state government to take care of cattle seized from inter-state smugglers. Besides we’re also seeking support from social activists, NGOs and other individuals in the district,” Pathak said.
“We want to encourage people to bring agricultural waste so that more fodder banks can be set up in the district.”
He further said that the death of 28 cattle being smuggled to neighbouring Maharashtra, inspired police to set up the fodder banks.
“Most of the seized cattle had either starved to death or suffocated in the crammed truck. Since the cows were rescued at night, shifting the animals to distant cow shelters was not possible immediately,” he said.
Police have seized 50 trucks packed with cattle being smuggled from different parts of the state to Maharashtra, in the last eight months alone, he said.
Over the last two days, 52 cattle were rescued while the animals were being smuggled to Maharashtra from the state.
Police seized 47 cattle being smuggled in a truck from Indore and also seized an Indigo car that was being used to smuggle five cattle to Wardha in Maharashtra. “The seats of the car had been removed by cattle traffickers,” he said.
Police arrested five people from Bhopal who were returning home after selling cattle in Maharashtra for slaughter in Chhindwara on Saturday and recovered Rs 4 lakh from them.
With Maharashtra turning out to be main destination of cattle smuggling racket originating from Bundelkhand and Vindhyan regions of the state, the Chhindwara police are now working in tandem with their counterparts in Maharashtra to check trafficking of cattle.
“Investigations have revealed that a Nagpur-based man, Salim Haji is one of the kingpins of the inter-state cattle smuggling racket. We recently sent a team to Nagpur to nab Salim, but he couldn’t be arrested.
“We have announced a reward of Rs 5,000 for Salim’s arrest and we are coordinating with the Nagpur deputy commissioner of police,” he said.
Police said investigations have revealed that there are at least six levels in the cattle smuggling chain, including courier, collector, loader, transporter, facilitator and slaughterer.