As cattle market collapses, stray cows raid UP farms -Omar Rashid
With no money to feed them, farmers abandon animals
It could take Vijay Rawat a week’s labour to build a temporary fence of Babool tree branches and twigs around his 2.5 bigha field. The thorny plants make the process arduous; he has already suffered cuts and scratches. But if he wants to protect his valuable crops, there is little choice. He cannot afford a wire fence.
For farmers like Vijay Rawat in Uttar Pradesh, stray cattle are turning into a source of huge loss: the animals raid fields in large numbers, trample on the crops and devour whatever they find. Hoof marks in his field indicate that some damage has already been done. “They ate up all the mustard I had sown. I had to sow them again. Now, if I don’t put up the fence, there will be no wheat to even consume [for his seven-member family],” he said, as he worked on the fence.
A Dalit, Vijay Rawat lives in Jabaroli village in the Mohanlalganj Lok Sabha (reserved) constituency, rural Lucknow. He blames the Yogi Adityanath government for the menace and even issues an ultimatum. “Make some arrangement soon or I will not vote for the BJP in 2019,” said Mr. Vijay, who voted for the party in 2014 and 2017.
Farmers, cutting across political lines and castes, claim the menace of stray cattle got worse after March 2017 when Yogi Adityanath came to power, owing to the fear of vigilante groups (who disrupt cattle transport), collapse of local cattle markets and fairs, fall in the value of non-milking cows and bullocks and campaign against illegal slaughterhouses. Last week, angry villagers in Firozabad and Aligarh even locked up stray cattle in government schools to draw the State’s attention.
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