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Fearing gau rakshaks, cattle traders in Hyderabad avoid buying stock for Bakrid

LiveMint logoLiveMint 27-08-2017 Yunus Lasania

Fearing illegal seizure of cattle by “gau rakshaks” and the Telangana police’s direction to not bring in any cattle flouting norms from outside the state, many traders have decided not to purchase do any business this year for Bakrid.

The police’s direction was made with an aim to avoid communal clashes given that the festival is three days away from the final day of Ganesh idol immersions (5 September) in Hyderabad, which is celebrated in a big way in Hyderabad.

“More than 50 % of traders in the city have decided not to do business this year. The problem is that once cattle is seized, there is no chance of getting them back even after we pay the fine in courts after being booked by the police,” said Mustafa Qureshi, a cattle trader.

Mustafa is still trying to make up for the Rs20 lakh loss he suffered last year after “gau rakshaks” stopped his truck, which led to him getting booked under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals act for over-loading cattle in truck. “We don’t mind paying a penalty, but our stock is put in a gaushala which do not release our animals even after getting orders from local courts,” he alleged.

Another trader, unwilling to be identified, said that even vehicles carrying bulls and buffaloes are being stopped illegally by ‘gau rakshaks’. “We face this problem every day now, as it has been getting worse from the last three to four years. It flares up during Bakrid particularly, because they know that more trucks with animals will be coming in. Ultimately, we suffer huge losses which we can’t recover from,” he explained.

“Who can do business after so many restrictions? Trucks carrying animals from other states like Andhra Pradesh and Odisha are being turned away at check points by the state police,” said Abdul Khader, general secretary, Jamait-ul-Quresh, Hyderabad. He added that even a meeting with the state Director General of Police (DGP) Anurag Sharma last week was fruitless.

In Telangana, slaughter of cows and calves are banned, but bulls and bullocks can be slaughtered if a fit-for-slaughter certificate is issued. Mohd. Fareeduddin Qureshi, general secretary, (JQ), Telangana, said that business has come down to just 20 % for cattle traders this year, who are mostly from the Qureshi community in the state.

“This is also our festival. Why should there be such stringent restrictions? The animal husbandry department does not have the manpower to issue so many certificates in the few weeks before Bakri Eid. In fact, the state government should provide us vehicles to get animals into the city. That will eliminate the problems of gau rakshaks, and also overloading,” demanded Fareeduddin.

According to Khader, there are about 2.5 lakh members of the Qureshi community in Telangana, of which 80,000 of them are in Hyderabad. Of them, about 11,000 run beef shops, in which about 20,000 people are employed.

A senior official from the Telangana police on condition of anonymity said that ‘gau rakshak’ groups have been warned not to take the law into their own hand and must inform the police if they find cattle being transported illegally. “Violence will not be tolerated. This issue is raked up every year, but with Ganesh idol immersions taking place, we can’t take chances and are only letting animals with certificates into the state and city,” he added.

When contacted, a Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) official, also unwilling to be identified, said that 17 officers have been deputed to issue fit-for-slaughter certificates in Hyderabad. “There is no shortage of people from our side,” he added.

Mohd Muneer Qureshi, coordinator, JQ, said that each year, nearly 20,000 cattle come to Hyderabad from Telangana and other states during Bakri Eid. “This year the number has down to just 3,000,” he added.

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