After the impounding of cattle, it's now the turn of the owners, who set hundreds of domesticated milch animals free in the city to graze at night, to face the music. The Chandigarh municipal corporation has forwarded names of 20 such people to the senior superintendent of police to register criminal cases.
Cattle roaming the city at night have caused at least three deaths this year in road mishaps. While there are around 3,000 stray cattle in the city, the menace is multiplied by a large number of the 17,000 domesticated cows and buffaloes owned by residents of villages in the periphery.
MC joint commissioner Rajiv Gupta said the 20 people who faced cases now were habitual offenders:
"They let the cattle roam free but keep the calves with themselves so that the animal return home on their own for their offspring. These dairy owners earn a lot of profit by selling milk, but instead of making suitable arrangements to feed the animals they just set them free to graze in public parks and on roadside weeds."
The offenders are from Sector 52, Manimajra, Maloya, Palsora, Kishangarh, Ram Darbar, Faidan, Burail, Dhanas and Mauli Jagran. They face sections 283 (danger or obstruction in public way or line of navigation) and 289 (negligent conduct with respect to animal) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which carry imprisonment for up to six months.
MC under fire
The three recent deaths had led to an intense drive against the cattle menace, though it encountered a major hiccup too. The MC had impounded nearly 500 stray cattle in 10 days. But on August 29, when about 200 cattle were sent in 25 trucks to a Mathura shelter, a mob near Gurgaon mistook the exercise for smuggling and burnt most of the trucks after setting the animals free.
At present, the civic body is facing problems in keeping the impounded cattle in the two gaushalas at Sector 45 and Maloya and the pound in Industrial Area-1 as they are already filled to capacity. In the past, the MC was forced to release the cattle after their owners paid the fine of Rs 1,000.