Around 800 cattle rescued in Odisha from being smuggled
At least 200 cattle, mostly heifers and bulls, being taken to West Bengal when locals along with gau rakshaks or cow vigilantes stopped them at the Seragad toll gate on National Highway 16 in Balasore after being tipped off.Updated: Oct 12, 2019 16:37 IST
Around 800 cattle were rescued by locals in two towns of Odisha on Friday night even as traffickers managed to smuggle out a few hundred more, police said on Saturday.
At least 200 cattle, mostly heifers and bulls, being taken to West Bengal when locals along with gau rakshaks or cow vigilantes stopped them at the Seragad toll gate on National Highway 16 in Balasore after being tipped off.
“At around 1am, we received information that five containers were loaded with cattle from Khurda and would cross Seragad toll gate,” said Khantapara police station inspector Sriballav Sahoo.
“With the help of local people, we intercepted the trucks and managed to rescue cattle from two vehicles while three other vehicles escaped from the spot,” Sahoo added.
The residents, who stopped the vehicles, alleged the employees of the toll gate under National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) were hand in gloves with the smugglers.
“The toll gate employees did not take any toll tax from the containers and simply allowed them to go. They were paid off by a Bolero driver that was escorting them to West Bengal,” a local man said.
Locals later staged a demonstration alleging lack of action on part of authorities to put a check on illegal transportation of cattle.
In Dhenkanal district, a special police squad detained six trucks with 600 cattle near Nihalaprasad area on Friday night and rescued them.
The state’s honorary animal welfare officer Anil Dhir said the smuggled cattle from Odisha feeds a lucrative cattle-smuggling trade along the 4,000-km border India shares with Bangladesh.
The Bharatiya Janata Party lawmaker and animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi had alleged last year that Odisha is ahead in cattle smuggling than most of the states. She had also alleged that the Odisha government was doing nothing to stop it.
“A large number of cattle are going out of Odisha every day to Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, from where they are being sent to Bangladesh,” she had said.
Last year, the Animal Welfare Board under the union ministry of environment had also raised concerns that cattle from six districts of Odisha were being smuggled to West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
The board had said illegal cattle transportation was being carried out mainly through two corridors—one via Balasore and Mayurbhanj to West Bengal and the other to Telangana and Andhra Pradesh via Ganjam, Gajapati, Rayagada and Koraput districts of Odisha.
First Published: Oct 12, 2019 16:33 IST