There’s a raging debate out there, across the country on beef ban. Before you decide which side to take, going blindly by the stories shown on media, let me give you an insight of how the entire beef lobby works. I’ve been closely working with Indian Center for Animal Rights and Education an animal welfare NGO, based out of Chennai for the last 3 years. Apart from the usual rescuing, treating and re-homing of abandoned/stray animals, we are actively involved in stopping the illegal trafficking of cattle. In the last 3 years we were able to save over 3000 cattle from being sent for slaughter illegally. That number might sound huge but in reality that’s hardly 0.01% of the total number of cattle that are being smuggled into Kerala every year. Every single day 100-300 trucks, with each truck containing 30-40 cattle go to Kerala from Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Karnataka, Bihar and Tamil Nadu. Kerala has an exceptionally large number of beef eaters with 25.28% of the total population consuming this meat. Kerala’s contribution to beef exports is also significantly high with over 30% of the total beef being exported from India. From what I’ve seen, I can assure you that the top quality beef goes to the middle east and the second grade meat of diseased, dead cattle is served to Keralites.
I’ve been to a lot of cattle shandies (markets) across Tamil Nadu and I will explain how healthy milk giving cows and young Oxen end up in slaughter houses of Kerala. Cattle shandies are held in different places across Tamil Nadu, on different days of the week. Farmers bring their unproductive, sometimes productive cows, buffaloes and oxen to these shandies in order to sell them and use the money to purchase better quality cattle.Large number of brokers are also present at these shandies who purchase these cattle, smuggle them to Kerala and sell them to the slaughter houses there. As there’s an ever-increasing demand for cattle in Kerala, these brokers are willing to offer reasonably high price to the farmers. Acute poverty drives these farmers to sell their old unproductive cattle to these brokers. Sometimes dire need of money makes them sell even their healthy milk giving cows and working oxen to these brokers. It’s a painful goodbye as most of the farmers consider cattle as an integral part of the family. Then begins the torturous and excruciating journey to death for these cattle.
The legally allowed number of cows/buffaloes/oxen per truck is 6-8 as per the Transport of Animals, Rules, 1978. However a minimum of 25-30 cattle are stuffed into trucks and transported to slaughter houses. Most of these trucks have an illegal extension of about 8 feet at the back to accommodate more number of cattle. These trucks are often sealed with wooden planks and covered with tarpaulin sheets to make them look like goods trucks. When we intercept these trucks, trafficking cattle illegally, the scenes we witness are heart rending. Cattle are jam-packed in the trucks and are tied to the edges with their nose ropes.
Sometimes these trucks arrive all the way from Orissa, Bihar travelling for 5-6 days without providing any food or water to the cattle. From exhaustion and fatigue, a few cows/bulls sit down on the floor resulting in the tightly tied nose ropes tearing their noses. The other standing cattle trample these cattle grievously injuring them and sometimes killing them.
In order to avoid this, chillies are stuffed into the eyes of the cattle. The constant irritation and pain keeps them from sleeping during the long journey. Very often bulls/oxen gore other cattle in the truck with their horns out of anxiety or due to the excessive swaying of the trucks.
Sometimes pregnant cows give birth in these trucks and the calves die before reaching the destination. Calves are often transported in the same trucks transporting adult cattle and they are trampled to death. After intercepting these trucks, we take them to the nearest police station to file First Information Reports (FIR) and take the cattle to our government recognized gaushalas till the court decides what is to be done with them. Filing a FIR is again a painstaking process as most the policemen en route to Kerala are bribed by these smugglers regularly. Only after we contact the District Collectors, Superintendents of police and they are pressurized by higher authorities, they unwillingly lodge the FIR. The entire process of intercepting a truck, contacting the higher authorities and filing an FIR usually takes around 24-32 hrs. The entire time most of us are awake keeping an eye on the trucks, continuously persuading the policemen to file the case and seeing to that none of the drivers and helpers of the trucks escape. Almost every time, within hours of intercepting the trucks, huge mobs of 200-300 people surround the police station threatening to kill us and have even attacked us a few times. After filing the FIR, going to the sessions court and taking an order stating that these cattle be handed over to our gaushala, we transport them to our gaushala. At the gaushala the extremely traumatized cattle are first examined for any wounds and medical attention is given to the injured ones. After a few hours of de-stressing they are provided with food and water and they spend the rest of their lives happily away from all the exploitation.
You don’t have to be a Sanghi or an ardent follower of Hinduism to give up beef. All you need is a mind and heart that’s willing to sacrifice a tiny part of your diet for the well-being of another sentient being.
**ALL IMAGES USED ABOVE WERE CAPTURED BY OUR PHOTOGRAPHER DURING OUR RESCUES AND THEY ARE COPY RIGHT TO INDIAN CENTER FOR ANIMAL RIGHTS AND EDUCATION. **