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Cow Protection Movement: Experiences of an Activist

Thursday January 03, 2013 07:13:30 PM, Ram Puniyani

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Mr. Farooqi, a retired Land Record Surveyor from Nanded has been working for Gohatya Virodhi Andolan (Movement against Cow Slaughter) from last many years. He took voluntary retirement after long years of service, in year 2000. Since then he has been spending all his time for preservation of Cow and progeny. He took up this work out of compassion and has been interacting with those working for ‘cow protection’. Here he describes some of his experiences during the course of his work.

R: Why did you decide to work for the movement to oppose Cow slaughter?

F: I used to eat beef from my child hood. I observed that many a communal riots have taken place in the name of cow. I took up this issue to understand the basic problem and to work for solving this irritant problem.

R. You have attended many conventions for cow protection, what is your experience of these conventions?

F: There are various types of conventions on this issue. I have even heard Shankarachaya of Madhvashram. I also started my own Goshala (Cow Home) and named it Apna Goshala. I reared cows with affection and learnt a lot during this period. Cow is a very innocent and loving animal. I realized that Goshala cannot be run without donations. Its urine and cow dung are useful as manure. When it stops giving milk it is a tough task to maintain it. I had 14 cows and could not sustain the Goshala as after the death of each one I duly buried the cows as per Hindu customs.

R. What about the nature of Conventions you attended?

F. The conventions are organized by richly funded NGOs. These donations come from traders (Baniyas), Marwadis in particular. Some industrialists also contribute to these efforts. These conventions are of varying durations, generally of three days duration. These are heavily attended by Sadhus and Brahmins in particular. Women also attend it in large numbers. In these conventions the glorification of cow is done, calling it the mother, virtuous and that it houses 33 crores Gods and goddesses. Every year on 7th November Shankarachaya of Madhvashram, Badrinath Himalaya, addresses it. He has an eight acre ashram in Delhi. Jains also organize Cow protection conventions. But interestingly Jains don’t organize any convention for protection of other animals. Many organizations do it, one such is from Hosapeth: Shimoga in Karnataka, which has the biggest network of Goshalas. They are close to RSS. As such most of the Goshalas are working close to RSS. Some Gandhian organizations are also doing this work. RSS presence in such conventions can be seen in a hidden form. Such conventions are many in number, over 20 per year, and are well attended, even up to by 20000 people attending these. Some of these have international character.

R: As such who is killing cows?

F: Khatiks from the Muslim community are the main one’s doing this job. In these conventions a false understanding is promoted that with coming of Muslims the cows started being killed. In these conventions lot of venom is spread against Muslim community, and these conventions as such are garnering Hindu vote bank. In these conventions it is openly said that people should vote only for those who worship cow and regard her as our Mother. The conventions have stalls selling lot of books on cow protection, products from cow dung and cow urine.

It is true that Afghans used to eat beef. Babar advised against cow slaughter. In Islam, it is not mandatory to eat beef. During Akbar’s reign Jain Munis represented to Akbar who asked for stoppage for cow slaughter and made it a punishable offense. Mughal administration did not encourage beef; even Aurangzeb did not change this policy.

R: So when does the policy change?

F: It was with the coming of British that consumption of beef was regularized in British army, other British people and Christians in particular. British appointed Khatiks in the army for providing beef. After this, consumption of beef picked up amongst Muslims also. The affluent educated Muslims did not eat beef; it was more amongst the poor Muslims.

R. What is the legal position on the issue?

F: Vinoba Bhave went on fast to demand for legislation on prevention of cow slaughter. Animal Preservation act has been brought in different states (except: Kerala and WB) in 1976-77. As per this cow cannot be killed and bulls only above 16 years of age can be taken up for beef production. In the abattoirs earlier bulls were killed, now they are not taken up in abattoirs. Many a traders (Muslim and Hindu both) take these cattle to Pakistan and Bangla Desh also. Many a cattle are taken to Kerala and WB for slaughter. Military needs shoes made of Cow-hide, as they are supposed to be better than the bull hide. Every year Indian military advertises for supply of these cow hide shoes. As such illegal slaughter takes places in many places, except in Kashmir, where the law punishes cow killer for 10 years. At other places the punishment is for 3 years.

Cow is killed after lactation period is over and this has to be certified by a qualified doctor. Most of the cows are reared by low caste Hindus, not by upper caste Hindus. The Guashalas get lot of donation and Govt grant; there is lot of corruption in this. The donation comes from many, some of them donate for faith and others for saving tax under different clauses.

R: What are the intricacies of the cow trade?

F: Beef is a rich source of protein, and its consumption ensures the protein supply to poorer sections of society. In this chain from the Khatik to trader all have to live in great tension as VHP Bajrang Dal tires to extort money and intimidates them at different stages. Muslims are scared to tell that they eat beef, this is out of fear. Khatiks are very underpaid for the difficult job. Child labour is also very prevalent amongst Khatiks. Many a times they also get injured during the slaughter process. If cows are not slaughtered it will be another type of crisis of feeding them.

R: Any connection between the cow slaughter and communal violence?

F: I have seen lot of violence associated with the issue of cow. Once in Nanded a cow trader was burnt. There are so many incidents of violence, where cow is at the centre of violence e.g. in Aurangabad (67-68). I feel if this beef eating is leading to violence, we should not insist on eating beef. RSS is using it as an issue. Once I met the noted Gandhian Govindbhai Shroff, who conceded that the cow not giving milk is a burden on the Earth. Many Jains are in the business of beef, beef export. Sabharwal family, Jains, have stake in Al Kabeer, which exports beef. Jains own other slaughter houses also.



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