Yogi Adityanath launched his first movement against illegal slaughterhouses in the Gorakhpur region in 2002 when residents of Humayunpur locality drew his attention to the illegal slaughter of animals and urged him to get an abbatoir closed.
The volunteers of Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV), an organisation floated by Adityanath, were mobilised to launch an agitation against the slaughterhouse in question.
“After instructions from ‘Chhotey Maharaj’ (the name by which Adityanath is popular in the region), we organised dharna (sit-in) near the gate of the slaughterhouse,” Hindu Yuva Vahini state president Sunil Singh told HT on Tuesday.
“When the slaughterhouse owner refused to relent, we organised a demonstration near the district magistrate’s office. Residents too joined the agitation. Soon, it became a public movement. A number of Muslim families, whose homes were located adjacent to the slaughterhouse, supported our movement. Finally, the district administration sealed the slaughterhouse and the illegal occupants were evicted,” he said.
After tasting success, Adityanath decided to broadbase the movement against the illegal slaughterhouses. A delegation of farmers told him that the gangs running illegal slaughterhouses often lifted a large number of cows, calf and bulls from grazing grounds, loaded them on trucks and transported to the slaughter houses.
The HYV was again asked to launch a campaign against illegal slaughterhouses and cattle lifting. Singh said the volunteers of HYV fanned out to Gorakhpur, Maharajganj, Kushinagar, Deoria, Basti, Sant Kabir Naga, Balrampur and Siddharthnagar districts and kept watch on trucks transporting cattle.
The HYV activists seized trucks and forced the smugglers to release the cows.
In 2005, a railway officer alerted Adityanath that a large number of cattle were being transported to West Bengal by train from UP.
When the goods train in question reached the Gorakhpur railway station, Adityanath and his HYV volunteers raided it, Singh said. They alerted the railway administration and got the cattle seized. Later the cattle were sent to cowsheds run by voluntary organizations. Adityanath raised the issue in the Lok Sabha and the central government directed the railways to maintain vigil on transportation of cattle to slaughterhouses.
The HYV volunteers also visit the weekly animal fairs in the respective areas to keep watch on the sale of livestock.
“If we get a tip-off that illegal slaughterhouse owners are active in the market, we urge the farmers not to sell their cattle. The local police are also alerted. We raid the spot where trucks carrying cows are parked. Several cases have been registered against HYV activists opposing illegal slaughter. We have also lodged counter cases at police stations,” he said.
“After Yogi Adityanath’s appointment as CM, we hope to get cooperation of the district administration against illegal slaughterhouses,” Sunil Singh said.