Rising Cattle Theft Creating Tensions

Despite police claims of vigil, cattle rustling incidents are increasing, leading to violence at some places.

2.Activists taking out a protest march from Shri Mahalingheswara temple in Parkala near Manipal on Sunday, 5 July 2015 to condemn the rising incidents of cattle theft from the temple and surrounding areas.

2. Activists taking out a protest march from Shri Mahalingheswara temple in Parkala near Manipal on Sunday, 5 July 2015 to condemn the rising incidents of cattle theft from the temple and surrounding areas.

Communal tensions have been arising in various parts of the country following growing incidents of cattle rustling and slaughter. Several such incidents take place every week almost all over India, but most of these are reported only in local, vernacular media with the national media being surprisingly quiet.

For example, on Sunday, 5 July 2015 several shops belonging mainly to Muslims were set afire by alleged Hindutva activists at Mahoba in Uttar Pradesh Jhansi’s district.

According to report in Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar, Hindutva activists tried to enforce a protest bandh after a calf was found slaughtered apparently by a knife. Some shopkeepers refused to down shutters and the enraged activists then set them afire.

In West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district, at least seven policemen, including Dhupguri police station in-charge, were injured during a clash with locals last Wednesday.

Irate locals clashed with the police following a cattle theft in the area, The Statesman reported, quoting police sources.

1.Shops belonging to Muslims that were set afire at Mahoba in Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh on Sunday, 5 July 2015. (Photo: Dainik Bhaskar).

1. Shops belonging to Muslims that were set afire at Mahoba in Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh on Sunday, 5 July 2015. (Photo: Dainik Bhaskar).

During the clash, seven policemen, including the Dhupguri police station IC, Jugal Chandra Biswas, were injured while the locals set ablaze two vehicles. To control the situation, police fired ten rounds in the area to disburse them.

Later the locals, alleging inaction on the part of police following frequent cattle theft cases, blocked National Highway 31 for three hours.

After a spurt in cases of cattle theft, especially buffaloes, police in Uttar Pradesh’s Kaushambi have directed cattle owners to submit details of the cattle like height, shape and length of horn, type of teeth and special mark if any, along with owner’s name, address and phone number with local police stations for the purpose of record, The Times of India reported last week.

Protests like these by predominantly pro-cow social and Hindutva organizations are also becoming commonplace at several places in Mangalore and Udupi districts of coastal Karnataka and northern Kerala.

On Sunday, 5 July, 2015, scores of people held a rally at Gandhi Maidan in Parkala near Manipal after a series of cattle thefts from the local over 1000-year-old Mahalingeshwara temple.

Police in the coastal districts have cracked down on rustlers and have seized several vehicles over the years, some with the aid of Hindutva activists.

Yet, people are convinced that police and politicians are hand-in-glove with the rustlers as cattle theft is a big, booming business.

The latest cattle theft took place from inside an ancient temple’s premises that was caught on security cameras. A first information report (FIR) was filed at the nearby Manipal Police Station against “unidentified persons”. Though the theft at the 1000-year-old Shri Mahalingeshwara temple took place more than two-three weeks ago, no headway has been made in the case.

Mr Srinivas Upadhya, the temple’s managing trustee and a popular local social worker, told this writer that scores of cows have been donated to the temple by devotees, yet over the years many instances of theft have taken place.

The security cameras were put in place upon the advice of police a little over four months ago. Yet, despite the incident being caught on camera, “nothing has been done by the police”, Mr Upadhya said.

On Sunday, 5 July 2015, scores of pro-cow activists took out a protest rally from the temple to the nearby Gandhi Maidan. Though the rally was supposed to go to Manipal Police Station to submit a memorandum to the Udupi district police chief, it culminated in a public meeting.

3.Mr Srinivas Upadhya addressing the anti-cow theft protestors protestors at Gandhi Maidan in Parkala near Manipal on Sunday, 5 July 2015.

3. Mr Srinivas Upadhya addressing the anti-cow theft protestors protestors at Gandhi Maidan in Parkala near Manipal on Sunday, 5 July 2015.

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