Punishing people for abandoning cows—as the Madhya Pradesh Cow Protection Board, a state government funded body, wants—would be, pardon the obvious pun, bovine.
Punishing people for abandoning cows—as the Madhya Pradesh Cow Protection Board, a state government funded body, wants—would be, pardon the obvious pun, bovine. As per a report in The Indian Express, Swami Akhileshwaranand, the chairman of the Board’s executive council, wants to punish owners who abandon their cows, just as the state law punishes anyone butchering the animal. While the fear of punishment may mean less strays on the streets, the clutch of factors that has led to a spurt in abandonment of these animals is a different beast altogether, one that isn’t going to be tamed by what Akhileshwarnand is suggesting. The Board has advocated compulsory electronic tagging of cows to zero down on abandoning owners. Curiously, the Centre was also considering something similar based on bovine biometrics. If you think these are just recommendations, keep in mind that the Board—which has officials of the animal husbandry, environment, cooperatives, and urban development departments, among others, as members—had recommended changing the name of state’s anti-cow slaughter legislation to bring in “cow conservation”, and the state animal husbandry minister has said that his ministry is ruminating over this and ‘abandonment as offence’ proposal.
Abandonment of non-milch cows is a serious concern in urban areas, but if there is a spurt in the state, the abandoning owners are hardly to blame. Parties eyeing the so-called ‘Hindu vote’ have always milked the cow issue, given the community’s sentiments. With the Centre bringing out a notification banning sale of cattle at cattle fairs for the purpose of slaughter—this was later suspended by the Supreme Court, and there were reports that the Centre was planning to withdraw/modify it—and the BJP leadership in many states as also the Centre looking the other way as even unaffiliated gau rakshaks lynch legitimate cattle traders/transporters and those involved in skinning carcasses of cows which had died a natural death, owners who are unable to provide for the upkeep of old cows are now forced to abandon them. Unless these problems are addressed, punishing owners for abandoning will be akin to—paraphrasing a popular idiom—flogging a dead cow.