What many may consider as a boon is giving the residents of Saketu village sleepless nights. “Chhutta gau dhan”, or stray cattle is keeping the residents of this village in UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri district awake through the night to save their crops from being destroyed. Amid the heavy rain when the rising water level of the Sharda river is a looming threat to the village, stray cattle has turned out to be a major concern for these villagers, reports Indian Express. The villagers have resorted to every trick to keep the strays away from the crops. They have guarded the fields in shifts, blocked others from taking cattle through Saketu village and even rounded up the stray cattle but nothing seemed to have worked for these villagers especially after police launched a crackdown on trade and transportation of cattle where cow slaughter had already been banned for as long as 62 years.
Men and women of the village who take turns to guard the fields say that the numbers, prior to this was much less. The villagers claim that over the last few months, the number of the of the stray cattle has gone up in hundreds. A resident of the village Mishri Lal whose sugarcane crop worth Rs 30,000 was destroyed by the cattle says, “Here, men and women have to take turns to guard the fields. There used to be stray animals earlier, too, but in small numbers. Over the last few months, the number has reached hundreds. There are no claimants for these animals. Sometimes, villagers from neighbouring areas leave their cattle here at night. What can they do, there are no takers for non-milching cattle.”
Harbans, another resident whose field was ransacked by the stray cattle says, “Earlier, there used to be takers in the market for non-milching cows but now they say their vehicles are being stopped. Often, police do not allow us to go to the market with our cows.” They claim that these cattles are no less than a ” curse” to the village. According to the officials, Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act had been enforced since 1955 but the rules were tightened after CM Yogi Adityanath ascended the throne after the election. Following this, police have been ordered to book those who are involved in slaughter or smuggling of cows.