Rise In Cattle Theft In Karnataka’s ‘Communally Sensitive’ Coast Leaves Defenceless Dairy Farmers Distressed
In the southern coast of Karnataka, cattle thieves carry on their nefarious activities fearlessly and when at risk intelligently raise the communal and human rights flag.
While the incidents of ‘cow vigilantism’ are reported regularly across the country, cattle theft too is surprisingly on the rise in the 'communally sensitive' coast of Karnataka. The high price of beef and the ease, at which evidence can be destroyed, are ‘supposedly’ attracting miscreants in stealing cows to make a quick and easy buck.
Sources state that around 200 cattle theft incidents have taken place in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts in the year 2017. However, only few people have registered complaints at police stations. In the last two months, 22 cattle were stolen from Moodushedde area. In last one month, seven cases of cattle stealing have been reported from Kavoor, five from Vamanjoor, two from Attavar, three from Jappinamogaru and four from Ullal.
It is surprising to note that Kalyani Amma, from Nadupadavu near city, has lost 37 of her cows in eight years. And neither action has been taken or the cows have been traced yet.
Cattle-trafficking is a sensitive issue especially in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts. If someone is caught trafficking cattle by the police, it easily turns into a communal and political tussle. However, it is the famers and the cattle owners who are at loss, while the miscreants silently escape and some even play the communal card for their advantage.
Cattle mafia has made dairy farmers helpless
“On July 17, a gang of five arrived at our cattle shed around 3 am. We woke up for the commotion made by our animals. When we stepped out, we were threatened with swords. Our dog was hacked to death, while two of our cows were dragged away. We were helpless, in an environment of terror,” recalls Purushotham a resident of Moodushedde.
He adds that the incident is not new to the area. “Around 21 cows have been stolen from our area earlier, and we have already sought police protection,”
Anish Arasu, an owner of five cattle says that he has lost three cows to the ‘cattle mafia’. “There is a gang that is operating in Moodushedde and Kavoor area. We have thought on countering them, but it is not easy. They come equipped with lethal weapons and also high-speed vehicles. Teams are deployed in different parts of the neighbourhood to carry the crime, while the kingpin is operating the racket from a different place,” he says.
Gopala, also a resident of Moodushedde, says that many illegal slaughterhouses have mushroomed in Ulaibettu region, which are controlled by the gang which operates the cattle mafia. “The mafia has a strong hold on political parties and some organisations. By using political contacts they are also pressurising the police. The mafia has divided areas amongst themselves. Every cattle theft happening in the district follows the directions of this mafia,” he alleges.
“I purchased two cows on loan, for diary purposes. Both have been stolen. The bank is sending notices for repayment. From where do I reimburse the amount?” asks Michelle Fernandes, a resident of Kavoor.
Nadupadavu’s Kalyani Amma lost 37 cows in 8 years
Thirty years back at the time of her marriage, Kalyani’s father gifted her a cow. A woman with sharp business skills, Kalyani set up a dairy farm few years later. Year by year the farm grew and she became an owner of 50 cows. She started to sell 40 litres of milk to dairy and her monthly income was around Rs 40,000.
It was the year 2010, when thieves first laid eyes on Kalyani’s cowshed and flourishing business. They started stealing cattle after midnight. Initially, Kalyani did not lodge a police complaint and this only encouraged the thieves to steal more.
“When I approached the police, I was rudely sent back. We are not here to protect your cows, they said,” Kalyani recalls.
This was the last time Kalyani stepped into the police station and decided to protect her cow’s herself. However, all her efforts have gone in vain. Kalyani’s cowshed became an easy target for the thieves. Meanwhile, Kalyani is now making a livelihood as a sweeper in a college in Mangaluru.
“In eight years, 37 of my cows have been stolen. My dairy business suffered and I am under loss. My cowshed looks empty. The cattle thieves have ruined my life. I have an emotional relationship with cattle from my childhood. I cannot live without a cow in my cowshed. Last week, I purchased a cow and now I am taking care of it like gold kept inside the hut. I fixed two metal doors for my cowshed and in the nights I am sleeping near to cowshed because I cannot bear another loss. If thieves want to take my cow, they should kill me first,” says Kalyani with tears.
“I know Kalyani Amma from many years. She is a true cattle lover. Every time when her cow is stolen, she sits in front of her cowshed weeping. Many a times her son tells that she does not eat food for days,” says Khader, Kalyani’s neighbour.
“In our country, we are getting government relief funds for damages due to rains or droughts. However, why is government not considering cattle owners like Kalyani for compensation? If one visits her home in Nadupadavu, near Konaje, the empty cowshed, milk cans and her tears tell you everything. But as per my knowledge, no one has visited her,” he adds.
Like Kalyani’s empty cowshed, there are many dairy farmers suffering the same fate in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts. Cattle thieves are continuing operations without any fear and if they face risk they are intelligently passing the ball to the courts of communal and human rights. The discussions, debates, protests are of no use to the farmer, who have lost the source of their livelihood. In all the commotion, the plight of the helpless cattle owner is forgotten.
The cattle owners of the district have now placed a demand, asking government and police department to take stringent action against the miscreants and safeguard their animals and livelihood.
Images by Dayanand Kukkaje.
This article was originally published on Daijiworld and has been republished here with permission.
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