31 October, 2020

Cow Soldiers Ride Buff Bazaar

New anti-slaughter rules choke cattle ­markets, make farmers desperate

Broken Farm
Hakim, a bishti, splashes water to keep cattle cool at Rs 10 per cow/buffalo.
Photographs by Jitender Gupta
Cow Soldiers Ride Buff Bazaar

As he made his way from Garh Mukteshwar in Uttar Pradesh to Salahpur near Meerut, Jit­ender, a thirty something far­mer, felt his courage slowly crumble. He had brought Rs 70,000 to buy a buffalo at Salahpur’s weekly farm-animal fair. But by the time he got there, he lost his nerve. “I might be attacked by gau rakshaks,” says Jit­ender, anxious about riding home with a buffalo, should he buy one. “The ­rakshaks won’t care if my buffalo is for milking. They will accuse me of ­wanting to slaughter her,” he says.

The fair at Salahpur has got, every Tuesday for twenty years, up to a thousand buffaloes. It caters to buyers from western UP, Rajasthan and Haryana. But this week, business fizzled out before it could even begin. By noontime, about 200 buffaloes and a dozen cows arrived.

“The market has dwindled since problems over slaughterhouses began some months ago. People became scared of transporting animals. Cow protection groups have terrified traders and the new rules make things worse,” says Jabbar...



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