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Cattle traders from other states stop buying cows at century-old Punjab cattle market

The impact of the fear of the cow vigilantes is massive in terms of numbers. Organisers and traders claim that only 15-20 cows are being sold at each Pashu Mandi, down from the hundreds that were sold before the atmosphere of fear took over.

punjab Updated: Sep 18, 2019 12:35 IST
Avtar Singh
Avtar Singh
Hindustan Times, Dhanaula (Barnala)
The cattle market at Dhanaula town in Barnala district, Punjab.
The cattle market at Dhanaula town in Barnala district, Punjab. (HT PHoto )
         

Cattle traders from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat and Rajasthan have not been buying cows, calves and bulls at the Pashu Mandi (cattle market) at Dhanaula town of Barnala district for the past three years at least, fearing the wrath of gau-rakshaks during transportation. This has been a setback to over-a-century old market, one of the biggest in northern India, held on the 11th and the 27th of every month. Now, cows are being traded only within Punjab.

The impact of the fear of the cow vigilantes is massive in terms of numbers. Organisers and traders claim that only 15-20 cows are being sold at each Pashu Mandi, down from the hundreds that were sold before the atmosphere of fear took over. The economy of local shopkeepers, vendors and transporters has also been hit.

“There is a fear of ‘gau-rakshaks’ among cattle traders. We buy only buffalos and fearlessly travel to our home. Purchasers of cows have to face police check-posts and cow protecters. Transportation of cows is dangerous and is an invitation to untoward incidents,” said Rajinder Singh, from Agra, who has been visiting Dhanaula for the past 25 years. Another trader from Uttar Pradesh seconded him, saying that the trade of cows and bulls from Punjab had become a thing of the past.

 “Cattle traders don’t want to take any risk and we cannot even imagine buying cows due to the fear of gau-rakshaks. However, traders prefer buffalos from Punjab which give milk for seven to eight months; UP’s buffaloes give milk only for three-and-a-half months,” said Sartaj, of Lucknow.

“Once I was stopped in Haryana while on my way to Uttar Pradesh. Some people searched my truck but they found nothing objectionable. If they find cows and calves together, they allow trucks to go,” said Jaggi, a truck driver.

Govt responsible, says farm leader

BKU (Ugrahan) leader Gobinder Singh said cattle, including cows, were property of farmers, and they should have the right to sell their property. “The government and the administration are responsible for lower sale of cows across the state as cow protectors target innocent people under their rule. The sale of cows should be a right like any another property,” he said.

He added, “Desi (local breed) cows may be left out of the slaughter policy, but other categories of cows and bulls must be allowed to be traded for consumption. Even otherwise, such cows are living in miserable conditions on roads and dying after consumption of polythene.”

District development and panchayat officer (DDPO) Sanjeev Kumar said, “The sale of cows and bulls has now touched a low of 15-20 per fair, which were earlier in hundreds. My observation of the cattle market over the past 2-3 years is that the trade of cows has decreased massively, due to the fear of transportation. If traders show their sale and purchase slips, they will not face any problem.”

First Published: Sep 18, 2019 12:35 IST

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