In Meerut, Muslims sell their cows to stay clear of vigilantes
Badar-ul-Islam, an influential leader from Syana area of Bulandshahr who contested Lok Sabha election against BJP stalwart Kalyan Singh in 2004 and lost by a slender margin of 8,000 votes, says he sold his two cows after Yogi Adityanath came to power in UP.
“Sensing the winds of change, I decided to sell my two cows as I didn’t want to buy trouble for myself. I have affection for cows and raised them at my home for over a decade as cow milk is considered best for the health of children and even adults,” he says.
Approximately 60km away, many Muslims in Saundat village in Meerut also sold their cows and oxen soon after the Yogi Adityanath government came to power.
Saundat is a Muslim-dominated village with hardly 200 Hindus in a population of over 7,000.
General secretary of the BJP’s Meerut unit Gulzar Hasan, who also belongs to this village, says the party has supporters in the village who voted for the BJP in the 2017 assembly elections.
Villagers, however, admit that they had supported the BJP in the hope of ‘acche din’ (BJP’s slogan promising a better future) but it turned out be a ‘jumla’ (rhetoric).
They claim that the BJP would lose support in the village as people are fed up with the politics of division and hate. “Saundat village is Muslim-dominated and only a handful of Hindus live here. But we do not believe in discrimination on the basis of religion. We even helped them in constructing the walls of the only temple in the village,” a villager says.
Confirming the claims of Muslims, a villager Chaman Singh says Hindus never felt insecure in the village despite being in a minority.
Kalwa, head of Saundat village, says his family always kept cows and oxen because of good quality of milk. “But I sold my cows to a milkman two months after the BJP came to power in UP,” he says.
“I had an ox and after its death I buried it instead of selling the body as I feared trouble,” he says.
Kalwa says over 200 cows and oxen have been sold by villagers in the last two years for fear of being implicated in false cases.
“Those who are still keeping cows don’t let the cattle graze in the fields for the fear of cow vigilantes and police,” he adds.
Another villager Wakil Ahmad says he also sold his cows after keeping them for three years.
“People desperately want to keep cows as it is economically viable in comparison to buffaloes but they are scared,” another villager, Nasir, says.
People are afraid of taking their cows out of their houses for the fear of cow vigilantes and police.
A villager Shamshad says one of his cows has taken it but he would call a vet at home. “I can’t take her out. I don’t know if I will return with the cow or not. Therefore, it is good to call a vet here,” he says.
“We can’t take cows and oxen outside even for treatment as it may cause trouble. Right wing activists and police generally snatch animals from us if we dare to take them from one place to other,” a villager, not willing to be named, alleged.
Meharban, 65, is popular in the village for his affection for cows. He has been domesticating cows since the time of his father and currently has two cows and a calf.
“I have stopped letting my cows go out for grazing. Though it adversely affects their milk production capacity but I have no other option but to feed them at home,” he says.
According to villagers, police do not pay heed to them if self-styled cow vigilantes lodge a complaint.
Citing a similar case, Salim says he bought a cow from a Gujjar of Ahmadpuri village for Rs 20,000 about nine months ago.
“One morning, Parikshatgarh police came to my house in my absence and took away the cow. When I approached the police, they threatened me that they would book me for cow slaughter. Finding no help, I moved the court and got back my cow after a battle of 103 days. I have now sent the cow to my in-laws’ place in Bhirauda village,” he says.
Salim is now reluctant of keeping cows.
“What is the point in inviting trouble for the family for the sake of cows. Let those who claim that cows belong to them live happily,” he says.
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