Around two weeks after they allegedly attacked and injured a few stray cattle that raided and damaged their standing crop, police detained two tribal agricultural labourers from Mathak village in Halvad taluka of Morbi district on Saturday under the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act (PASAA) and sent them to separate jails.
The action was initiated after Morbi district magistrate JB Patel approved a proposal against the duo — Raju Nayak (26) and Baka Nayak (35) — both agricultural labourers, from Mathak village of Halvad taluka on Saturday. Raju was sent to a jail in Surat, while Baka was sent to Sabarmati Central Jail in Ahmedabad.
While Raju is a tribal from Bodeli taluka of Chhota Udepur district, Baka is a native Halol taluka in neighbouring Panchmahal district.
The duo were booked by Halvad police under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act after they allegedly attacked around six stray cattle that damaged their crop on December 31.
After they were booked on December 31, 2020, Raju had told media that he was working as a share-cropper on a land in Mathak village. “I’m working as a sharecropper on the land of one Rajubhai but stray cattle are creating problems every day. We were not able to keep them at bay despite keeping vigil all night. Fed up with it, today, we attacked them. What we did may not be appropriate but we are here to earn something and what else can we do if they damage all our crop. We attacked them in a fit of rage,” Raju had said.
Morbi district magistrate JB Patel said that he had ordered action against the duo as they were involved in “sending cattle to slaughterhouses”.
Talking to The Indian Express, Patel said, “Working as farm labourer was their secondary occupation. Their main business was to send cattle to slaughterhouses. There is evidence to this effect and, therefore, we ordered police action against them. They are already facing two cases registered under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.”
Subodh Odedra, superintendent of police of Morbi, said, “They had subjected animals to cruelty and there is legal provision to initiate action against such persons… we have done just that. Incidents of attack on stray cattle are on the rise and animal rights activists have been making representations against this.”
Prakash Dekavadiya, police inspector Halvad, said that the duo were booked twice in recent times for attacking cattle. “Today, one more stray bull was attacked in Raysangpar village with some sharp-edged weapon,” he added.
Dilip Sakhiya, president of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), the farmers’ wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, expressed outrage over the detention of the farm labourers.
“No one can condone such brutal attack on cows and cow progeny. However, farmers have right to protect their crop. How a salaried employee would react if he is robbed of his salary earnings for an entire year? Stray cattle do the same to farmers. Government must find a solution to the issue of stray cattle in entire state,” said the farmer leader.
Tapan Dave, an animal rights activist of Halvad, said farmers need to be sensitive. “Farmers have encroached on guachar (pastures) for stray animals… And who is letting these cattle out? Farmers who don’t want a male calf. If farmers want to protect their crops, government is giving them subsidy for erecting barbed-wire fencing round their farms,” Dave who is member of Shree Oum Gausevak Mandal, said.
Dave added that attacks on stray bovines have been on the rise for the past one year, but the past one month has seen a spike. “At least two dozen bovines have been attacked with acid or sharp-edged weapons by farmers in Dhanala, Palasan, Sukhpar, Miyani and Mathak villages,” he said.
Six stray bulls were allegedly poisoned in Dhanal village a few weeks ago.
The SP said they were trying to find a solution to the issue. “We have asked our officers to hold meetings with sarpanches of villages and sensitise them about the issue. We are also reaching out to non-governmental organisations to take care of stray cattle,” said Odedra.