Do you think the mayor has never stepped out of his house at night, or is he selectively blind towards the menace until a cow kills someone? Don’t answer that.
Remember Avinash Kumar, 26, married to 24-year-old Sonia, with a three year-old son and five-year-old daughter. He worked in a Sector-9 salon and earned just enough to support a jobless younger brother and old parents. The lone breadwinner of his family, he died on August 20, four days after stray cattle appeared in front of his bike, leaving him severely injured while he was on his way back home. His death ignited some rage, and then some action by the municipal authorities. The MC claimed to have caught hundreds of the 20,000 odd cattle that own the roads of City Beautiful, particularly at night. Then, selective amnesia took over.
Wait for the next such mishap and another avoidable death, and you will have the definitive answer to the question I asked you upfront. Also keep your eyes open for reports from Mohali and Panchkula, and for those black beauties that appear in the middle of the road out of nowhere. Buffaloes sure are a greater threat on the road than their cow cousins, but not as big as the selective amnesia that our representatives and public servants are inflicted with.
Avinash’s was the fourth such death, at least, this year in accidents caused by the genial-looking cows and buffaloes. If you’ve lived in Sector 38-West, like me and HT’s diligent reader Raghunath Chhabra (not my relative) who keeps writing letters to the editor on the matter, add majestic-looking ‘stray’ horses to the list. Most of these cattle aren’t stray, in the true sense of the word. Surveys have put the number of ‘stray’ cattle at around 3,000, but the real trouble begins when the 17,000-odd milkmachines domesticated by the dairy owners of the city and its surroundings are let loose to graze on lawn grass and roadside weeds.
There is hardly any action against owners of the lucrative business other than an occasional fine of ` 750-2,000, which has now been raised to ` 1,5004,000 but is apparently not enough to be a deterrent. And how many cattle can you catch when you have a couple of fulltime employees and some rundown vehicles for the job? Worse, there’s nowhere to take these cattle to. The shelters (gaushalas) in the city are equipped to handle only around 500 cattle.
Yes, there was a sudden problem around two months ago, w when the caught cattle were being sent to gaushalas in UP and some people on the way in Haryana, who thought it was a case of cattle-smuggling, set the trucks afire after “freeing” the cattle. (So much for gau love, those sovereign cattle are now a problem in towns near the arson site!) Let’s not go into the bizarreness of the arson; but why should a nonsensical hiccup in the transportation of cattle be enough to stop a drive against avoidable human deaths?
It all boils down to the criminal carelessness of the civic authorities and, on top of that, the utter selfishness of cattle owners. Some of these owners hold protests by day to demand more facilities and freebies for the cattle sheds, but cannot keep their flock together at night. As I see it, they are not even bothered to buy fodder for animals whose milk puts food in their children’s mouths.
To make matters worse, animal rights activists care a lot for killer stray dogs but are hardly visible on the question of dairy owners not feeding their cattle. If human deaths aren’t enough to sustain a drive, it’s obviously idiotic to expect action against cattle menace, which is effectively animal abuse too.
I guess another Avinash will have to die before the mayor sees a point in saving lives. Some days later, as amnesia will kick in again, he will again wear blinkers. And the ruling disposition is not to blame alone. The opposition had sought a special MC House discussion on the menace, but then forgot about it. Such is the price of life.