The Grief of Punyakoti

Millions of Hindus have always visualised cow as the mother; the unfair and illegal butchering of the innocent animal is a matter of immense grief
Rakesh Shetty
The famous folk song “Punyakoti" which we grew up listening, had a permanent imprint in our hearts. Those were the days when a cowherd used to call his grazing cattle with fondness and warmth. But today, the scenario for the cowherds, especially in the coastal region, is full of sorrow.

Bovines rescued in Karnataka
Cows which give milk in abundance and their playing calves which are the lifeline of the cowherds are suddenly disappearing from the cowshed before dawn. It was not the disappearing of the magical sort but real smuggling by well-armed cow smugglers with sharp swords in hand to threaten and even kill those who try to stop them or confront them. In the past two months alone, nearly 20 cows and calves have been smuggled in Mangaluru's Moodashed, Kaavooru, Kulayi, Vaamanjooru, Attavara and Jeppinamoguru areas. It is how they have destroyed the lives of poor farmers and cowherds in coastal Karnataka.
Distressing the Cowshed
Recently, a video over cow smuggling in the coastal belt went viral on social media. As shown in the video, Kalyani amma once owned 50 cows that produced 40 litres of milk each day which was then supplied to a nearby dairy. She earned well and led a contented life. But her world was turned upside down by the cow smugglers a few years ago. What started as a one-off incident became a regular practice, and today Kalyani amma’s cowshed is empty!
She looked after them as her children and all that she can do today is shed tears. Her helplessness is a result of official apathy and administrative disdain towards tackling the issue. The first time her cow was stolen in 2010, she approached the police to register a complaint. The police instead of helping her drove her away and treated her so badly that she never gathered the courage to approach the police again. Unable to see her shed empty and for the love she had for cows, she brought a calf and maintained vigil day and night. But even that was smuggled away by the heartless butchers. It is but a reflection of the pathetic law and order in the state today.

Punyakoti: The cow that indeed came home 
Hundreds of poor farmers in the coastal region of Karnataka have similar stories to narrate. Many farmers have endured what Kalyani amma underwent. Michele Fernandez and Kiran Pinto are poor farmers who took loans to purchase cows and rear them so that the income they get from its produce would support their families. Their cows were smuggled, slaughtered by the butchers and consumed much before they could start earning from them. The irony is that the banks are after them to repay the loans with interest!
Menace of Smugglers
We have seen umpteen videos of cow smuggling on social media where cows are forced into small cars which even grown men find it difficult to occupy. Another video from Thane, Maharashtra, shows cow smugglers run leaving a car behind after public noticed them. The car had three cows


mercilessly cramped inside. It is how cattle smuggling is happening wantonly in Karnataka too.
For these smugglers, the cow is pure business and a money making tool. They wouldn’t even bother about the condition of the cow while it is being smuggled. A few months ago, a very disturbing incident of cow smuggling came to light from Shaktinagar in Mangaluru where a pregnant cow’s legs were chopped off so that it wouldn’t escape. The mother who was determined to save her calf had somehow escaped the butchers but collapsed on the road bleeding heavily. She was rescued and treated by The Care Trust. With severed legs and unable to move, the mother suffered from tremendous pain for three months but ensured that she delivered her calf. Ten days after the calf was born, she breathed her last.
Roots to Lynching
Few incidents of lynchings are blown out of proportion and are being spread by the same set of intellectuals. Either they are willfully ignorant or affected by politics of appeasement. There are many Panchayats all over Bharat where cattle smugglers are punished by tying them to a tree and flogging them. Such incidents happen when there is no law and order, or people have lost faith in the way it is delivered by the Governments. I agree that no one should take the law into one’s own hands. But is it right to break-in someone’s cow shed and smuggle them? Is it okay to butcher the cow which belongs to a farmer dependant on it? Is it fine to sell the smuggled cows to illegal slaughter houses? Is it their right to snatch someone else’s property?
Every issue has a cause. If the police and the state government had stopped cows being smuggled, sold and butchered at illegal slaughter houses, why would people come out on streets and demand action? Can’t the police which successfully traces and captures a pickpocket, know who the cattle smugglers are? It is but laughable to suggest that the local police do not have any information regarding the cow smugglers in their area. It is an open secret that cattle smuggling happens with the tacit support of a politicians there.
In September 2017, ‘Gau Gyan Foundation’ had petitioned the High court of Karnataka to disallow slaughter of cows and camels in and around the Shivaji Nagar area in Bengaluru. A case was also registered in this regard, and the honourable High court had also directed the police to protect cows. However, nothing happened, and the slaughter continued as before.
The BBMP had submitted an affidavit to the High Court stating that only three legal slaughterhouses and 2859 meat shops are present in Bengaluru. However, the Gau Gyan Foundation listed more than 15 illegal slaughterhouses in which the smuggled cattle are slaughtered in Bengaluru. The CM of Karnataka, HD Kumaraswamy always claims that he is concerned about farmers and the poor. With the situation turning grim, will he now dare to act against the cattle
smuggling mafia and the thriving illegal slaughterhouses in the state, especially the coastal region? Would he provide justice to the poor farmers and victims of cattle smuggling who beseech him to act?
(Translated from original Kannada by Achyut Dabeer)
( The writer is a regular contributor to different magazines and admin of Nilume group)