Vol. XLI No. 22 May 28, 2017

GUJARAT: Dalits Confront Vigilantes with Real Cause of Cows’ Deaths

Babulal Likhure

HARASSED and beaten by the self-styled cow vigilantes for long, dalits of Gujarat have now confronted the ruling BJP with real cause of unnatural deaths of cattle.

 Through an innovative march, the dalits have pinpointed that more cows die due to eating plastics than at the slaughter houses.

 Taking the cue from the cow vigilantes who consider bovines as their ‘mother’, dalits have demanded that any one causing unnatural deaths of cows should be prosecuted for matricide under appropriate laws.

This was among the many demands a dalit rally through Wadhwan and Surendranagar towns of Saurashtra region of Gujarat made on May 10.

 But the rally pointed out through displays that more cows died due to eating plastics than due to slaughter, a political agenda of the Sangh Parivar to malign the minorities and dalits who skin the carcasses on behalf of the tannery trade.

 To demonstrate their moot point, few hundred dalits displayed during their march the bunches of plastic material found in the stomachs of dead cows when they were being skinned. The bunches of plastics recovered from stomachs of each dead cow, ranging in weight from 20 to 36 kilogrammes, were hung from a pole mounted on a tractor.

 Facing the heat of adverse publicity after flogging of a dalit family in Una by the cow vigilantes, BJP’s prime minister Narendra Modi had admitted that more cows died due to eating plastics than at slaughter houses. But, that utterance did not deter the Sangh Parivar’s foot soldiers from attacking, maiming and killing cattle traders, Rajasthan’s Pehlu Khan being the latest victim.

 Apart from rubbing in their point, the dalits have hit at the root of the economics of the cow politics.

 The dalit rally, showcasing the plastics recovered from the stomachs of dead cows, said that the rampant handing over of ‘Gauchar’ (grazing) land to the industrial houses by the state government has reduced the pastoral land for the cows, forcing them to munch plastics at the garbage bins.

 The Navnirman Sarvajanin Trust, which organised the march, didn’t stop at displaying the plastic extracts through the streets but also requested all 182 MLAs of Gujarat to enact a law that would consider cows’ deaths due to plastics as cow slaughter.

 Anybody responsible for cow’s death due to eating plastics should be prosecuted under the relevant laws for cow slaughter, the dalits said in the language of cow vigilantes.

The dalits also sent 182 small bottles filled with small plastic pieces recovered from dead cows’ stomachs to the district collector at Surendranagar with a request to have them forwarded to as many MLAs in Gujarat so that they can know the real causes behind the deaths of cows abandoned by the owners after their productive period is over.

The 182 MLAs and the Gujarat assembly are committing a sin by not stopping the continuous handing over of ‘Gauchar’ land to the industries, the dalits’ memorandum to the collector said.

 The memorandum given to the collector reminded the administration, Gujarat’s 182 MLAs and also the cow vigilantes that more cows die due to lack of fodder, water and eating plastics than at the slaughter houses.

 “ For any unnatural death of cows due to dearth of water, fodder or eating plastics, the owner should be prosecuted for cow slaughter or matricide”, the memorandum as well as the slogans, speeches and leaflets during the march demanded.

 Apart from a total halt to transfer of grazing land to industries, the dalits’s rally also demanded a ban on manufacture and sale of plastics which are killing more cows than alleged slaughter.

 As plastics are a very profitable by-product for many manufacturing processes owned by top business houses friendly with the ruling BJP, a ban on it in Gujarat seems quite unlikely.

 The procession of dalits also displayed a larger than life size metal model of a cow with its stomach stuffed with these extracted plastics.

 About bunches of plastics hung from the pole atop the tractor trailer, organiser of the unique march Natubhai Parmar said these are dried up versions.

  “ They weigh much more due to the moisture content when they are extracted fresh from the stomach as soon as the skin near the belly is cut open”, said Natubhai who has himself given up the job of skinning dead cows.

 But, Natubhai collected these bunches of plastics from a spot for such work few months back, mainly with the purpose of displaying them in this rally.

 Such plastics are extracted from stomachs of almost every cow found dead in the towns, the highest ever recovery being 60 kilos (when dried up), added Natubhai who has started the Navnirman Sarvajanin Trust after giving up the job of skinning dead cows.

 Cow carcasses coming from villages normally do not have plastics in their stomachs, he said adding that these are from farmers who have not allowed their bovines to go out for grazing.