Strict enforcement of the law against cow slaughter can achieve only one object. Cow slaughter will stop, but cruelty on animals will continue with more vengeance, unless governments come forward and take charge of milch animals like old oxen and cows, which have stopped giving milk. No one wants to keep and feed them. In rural areas, even netas who give speeches on the prohibition of cow slaughter sell their cows when they stop giving milk.
While in America to visit my sons, I came across an appeal that asked leather merchants not to purchase hide from India as cows are subjected to cruelty and even chilly powder sprinkled in their eyes.
I was stunned and wanted to verify if this actually happens. I made a thorough enquiry and the facts were shocking.
At the time, in 2000, cow slaughter was banned in UP, but openly practised in Kolkata, Mumbai et al. This made the purchase of old oxen and cows very easy - the animals would be sold at throw-away prices in UP and transported to other places where cows could be slaughtered openly. As these places are located far off from UP, trucks which should normally carry only 10 to 12 animals were loaded with 30-40 animals, one upon another to save costs. By the time they reached their destination in these terrible conditions, one or two animals would have died and the rest would be unable to get down from the truck. It is then that chilly powder would be sprinkled in their eyes to induce terrible pain, which would force them to alight of their accord.
The point is that the ban enabled old cows to be bought at throw-away prices and sold by kilograms at fabulous profit in other areas. In UP, in 2000, animals who had become a burden for their owners would sell at Rs 25 to Rs 100. After the animal was killed, the hide and bones would fetch Rs 150 to Rs 600, making more than four times the profit.
These animals are mostly killed in two ways:
1. The animals are tied in jungles or lonely places by a short chain in the open sun. No food or water is given to them, so they die of thirst and hunger in three or four days. Then their hide and bones are sold.
2. The second and most common way to kill the poor animals is to poison them. The consequences are poisoned carcasses, which have also resulted in the near-end of vulture populations all over north India. This is disastrous. Today, even if a dog dies on the road, there are no vultures to eat it.
3. The third way to get rid of unwanted animals is to leave them on public roads to fend for themselves. They roam on the roads in search of feed. Sometimes they collide with cars and motor vehicles causing accidents and creating a public nuisance. We have all seen how such stray cattle congregate on garbage piles and eat waste packed in plastic bags. As plastic cannot be digested, it gets entangled in their intestines and the milch animals ultimately die, not before suffering an unbearable pain in the stomach.
What is the solution? The only way the cow slaughter ban can work is if it is made a uniform policy throughout India in every state. Only then can one ensure that no transportation takes place and put an end to animal cruelty. If governments ban cow slaughter to catch the votes of a particular community then I have nothing to say. But if cow slaughter is banned to save oxen and cow from cruelty then the current laws do not work.
If cow slaughter alone is banned and governments do not invest in the upkeep of owner-less or unwanted cattle, the poor animals will be killed for hide and bones anyway.