Shyam Singh, a cattle owner, recently went to Gorakhpur to meet chief minister Yogi Adityanath to seek the CM’s help to trace his missing cattle. Nine of his bovines were stolen on March 13 and are yet to be traced.
“After Yogiji became CM and announced a crackdown on illegal slaughterhouses, I am hopeful that I will find my cattle. But so many days have passed and I suspect that the smugglers might have sold them to traders or the animals may ended up in an illegal abattoir,” said Singh, a resident of Bamheta in Ghaziabad.
He has a family of seven and the Rs 15,000 he earns every month by selling milk is their only means of livelihood.
“Now, we lost our livelihood as well. A buffalo costs between Rs 50,000 and Rs 70,000 and I lost all my investment. Smugglers arrived in the dead of night, broke the boundary wall and escaped with my cattle. Only one was saved — that one somehow fell into a nearby drain while others were probably taken away in some vehicle,” he said.
Similar woes were shared by another family who lost three bovines to smugglers who they claim are rampant in western UP. Rajeev Kumar lost three buffaloes when armed robbers entered his dairy during the early hours of March 1.
“Since then, we lost all our earnings and my husband is now doing daily labour to make a living. All our cattle were stolen and may have ended up in some slaughterhouse by now. We sold milk to eke out a living, but there is hardly any earnings now. There has to be an end to illegal slaughter, else people like us will suffer,” said Dharam Wati, Rajeev’s wife.
“We took loan of Rs 70,000 to buy buffaloes. We still have Rs 30,000 left to repay. How will we repay doing daily labour work?” she said.
According to police records, 165 cases of animal slaughter or cruelty towards animals were registered during the last three years of 2014, 2015 and 2016 in Ghaziabad. These are apart from nearly 55 cases related to cattle theft or robbery. Police sources said most of the stolen cattle end up in abattoirs.
“The instances go up as one moves further interior. A majority of the cattle goes to slaughterhouses. Even stray cattle are taken up and slaughtered illegally. We searched an illegal facility in Dasna on January 25 and found nearly 50 camels kept there for slaughter. We could save only 12,” said Saurabh Gupta, a member of People for Animals.
“The scenario has changed after the new government assumed office. Slaughterers will not dare enter UP. Cattle thefts and robberies will also decline. Earlier, police and administration were fearful of entering slaughterhouses as the operators enjoyed political patronage,” he said.
Superintendent of Police (city) Salmantaj Patil declined comment on the issue.
“We were always in favour of stopping illegal slaughter as it affects our business. But who will check the ‘bigger’ slaughterhouses where thousands of animals are taken on a daily basis?” said Yaad Ilahi Qureshi, a meat shop owner in Raj Nagar.