Failure of Yogi’s scheme to ‘support’ cows? UP farmers angry, seek compensation
By Sandeep Pandey*
On December 28, villagers from five villages of Hardoi District – Chamka, Gram Sabha Sikandarpur, Fatehpur and Banjara, GS Gherwa, Jeevan Kheda, GS Bharawan and Dulanagar, GS Dulanagar were going to march towards Yogi Adityanath’s residence in Lucknow with stray cattle, who have become a source of grief for them, after informing the Sub-Divisional Magistrate in Sandila. The Block Development Officer of Bharawan arranged vehicles to transport 22 animals on December 27, and another 17 on December 29 to Gaushalas or Cow-sheds.
As soon as the news spread people in other villages, equally harassed, started gathering the stray cattle. Villagers in Ramnagar, GS Kaudia, collected 50 animals, Banajra, GS Aira Kakemau collected 60-70 animals and GS Bharawan collected about 200 animals and waited for the administration to fetch their cattle too.
On January 1, 2022 hundreds of people from abovementioned villages marched towards Chief Minister’s residence. They were intercepted by the SDM and Circle Officer of Sandila on the way and hundreds of cattle were moved from villages to Cow-sheds.
In 2021 six such action programmes were undertaken by villagers in Hardoi, Unnao and Barabanki Districts. The first programme was undertaken in Miyaganj, Unnao on 25 January when villagers started for CM’s residence.
The SDM and CO of Hasanganj intervened and sent the cattle to a shelter home for animals. On the Republic Day, January 26, hundreds of villagers with 21 cattle moved from Lalamau Mawai GS in Hardoi. Again the SDM and CO arrived and gave in writing that 80 cattle held by nearby three GSs in a temporary enclosure will be moved to cow-sheds within two days.
Also, a First Information Report with section of Scheduled Caste/Tribe Prevention of Atrocities Act was lodged against a Bhartiya Janata Party local office bearer Gyanendra Singh who had attacked the villagers when they were taking the cattle from Lalamau Mawai to a cow-shed in Pawayan village on the advice of District Veterinary Officer in previous December.
On August 13 people from Aseni GS in Barabanki marched towards CM’s residence with stray cattle after informing the officials. The police intervened and arranged for the cattle to be sent to cow-shed. However, it was only a symbolic action with only a few cattle being removed leaving behind the more dangerous ones. So, the villagers of Aseni again decided to take out the cattle parade on August 18.
This time the District Veterinary Officer assured in writing that all cattle would be removed from the village within a week. In Unnao villagers from GS Devgaon gave a notice to the SDM, Safipur that they would march to CM’s residence on September 22 with stray cattle.
A day before the action, the SDM got approximately 40 cattle removed from the village to cow-shed. Then on 11 October, again in Unnao, people marched with cattle from Kali Mitti to Takia and then to Asiwan the next day for about ten kilometers before the police intervened and arranged for the cattle from two villages Tanda Satan and Majharia to be transported to cow-sheds. However, villagers in other villages were also expecting stray cattle from their respective villages to be removed.
Today there is a massive fodder scam going on in UP in which people from top to bottom in the government machinery are involved
Stray cattle became a problem after Yogi Adityanath became the CM, when in a number of incidents people accompanying cattle were suspected of taking them to slaughter houses and were fatally mob lynched. Afraid of these Gaurakshaks, who merely indulged in violence in the name of cow protection, the sale and purchase of cows came to a halt. The weekly cow markets were closed.
Yogi Adityanath government started a scheme for cow-sheds in which there is a provision for Rs 30 per cattle per day for feeding them. However, the number of stray cattle is too large and there are not enough cow-sheds. Neither is there a will to run the cow-sheds properly.
The animals are languishing in cow-sheds without proper care and caretakers are sometimes not paid their honoraria for months. In Bihar Lalu Prasad Yadav went to jail in fodder scam. Today there is a massive fodder scam going on in UP in which people from top to bottom in the government machinery are involved.
The government should create cow-sheds wherever people have gathered the stray cattle and administration should take care of their feed. Otherwise the Rs 30 per cattle per day provision should be directly made available to the farmers so that they may not abandon their cattle who have no utility for them.
After all the present government has begun various cash transfer schemes and it can easily transfer cash into farmers’ accounts for this purpose too. The Kisan Samman Nidhi of Rs. 6,000 being given to farmers is a pittance compared to the losses they have suffered on account of stray cattle eating up their crops. In fact, this scheme is a disgrace for the farmers.
The Panchayats can also take care of the responsibility of stray cattle provided sufficient funds are made available to them. A number of Gram Pradhans complain that they spend out of their pocket to take care of the stray cattle when asked to do so but are subsequently not reimbursed by the officials.
The farmers are demanding that since the government has banned the bladed wires it should compensate the farmers for the crops destroyed by stray cattle. If the government doesn’t pay heed to this demand then the farmers are likely to approach the courts.
Ram Snehi Arkvanshi, the farmer who led the recent initiative from Chamka village in Hardoi District to free his village of stray cattle, is of the opinion that if the government cannot run cow-sheds properly and is not willing to compensate the farmers in any way, then it should allow the cow markets to function so that the farmer can be relieved of the problem of stray cattle.
*Magsaysay award winning scholar-activist; general secretary, Socialist Party (India)