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Muslim ‘gau sewak’ family tends to Dankaur’s cow shelter

In the midst of the issue of cow slaughter creating a communal divide, multiple generations of a Muslim family are working as ‘gau sewaks’ (cow caretakers) in Dankaur, some 20 km from Bisada village.

noida Updated: Oct 10, 2015 12:36 IST
Abhishek Anand
Abhishek Anand
Hindustan Times
Bisada,cow slaughter,gaushala
Sexagenarian Habib Painter has been working in the gaushala ever since he was a child.(Sunil Ghosh/HT Photo)

In the midst of the issue of cow slaughter creating a communal divide, multiple generations of a Muslim family are working as ‘gau sewaks’ (cow caretakers) in Dankaur, some 20 km from Bisada village, where a man was lynched last month over allegations of storing and consuming beef in his house.

Three generations of Habib Painter’s family have been working together at a gaushala (cow shelter), owned by a Hindu, at Dankaur village. The 60-year-old said that as a child he was attracted to the playful calves at the gaushala near his school.

“When I was 10-years-old, my father used to drop me to the government primary school where I studied, but the teacher used to punish me often for minor mistakes. To escape the teacher’s wrath, I used to jump over the school’s small boundary wall and play with the calves at the adjacent gaushala,” said Painter.

“One day, a gaushala worker asked my father to let me work there. My father was unaware that I was skipping school and playing with the calves all the time. He was very angry, but when the gaushala owner offered Rs. 15 a month, which used to be a good amount for us at that time, he happily allowed me to work. Since then, I have been working at the same gaushala, which has become my second home,” he added.

Asked about the recent tension in Dadri over the lynching of 55-year-old Mohammad Ikhlaq, he said, “There can’t be any justification for killing a man. Let the law decide the fate of any person involved in cow slaughter.” While strongly opposed to cow slaughter himself, he said, “We (Hindus and Muslims) are all one. For the sake of peace, we should never divide ourselves.”

The gaushala manager, Nand Kishore Garg, said the people of the area are setting an example of communal harmony. “I have been a member of Drona Charitable Trust, which owns this gaushala, for 30 years and I see Habib as a part of my family. People should take lessons from us,” he said, adding that Painter’s wife, daughter, son, daughter-in-law, and grandson also work at the gaushala.

“We are paid Rs. 7,000 per person and don’t want to work anywhere else. We are happy here serving cows,” said Painter.

First Published: Oct 10, 2015 01:19 IST