To say the ordeal is stressful does not begin to describe it..

“A rope is threaded through their nose to keep the animals together…

Sometimes the frightened cattle tug against one another and the rope rips their nose apart…

The animals are beaten mercilessly with sticks…

The cattle are forced to walk sometimes for days…and are not given food or water

It is no wonder many of them collapse.

But instead of receiving help, the animals who fall actually have chilli peppers and tobacco rubbed into their eyes and have bones in their tails repeatedly broken in an effort to get them on their feet.”

After this, I could not bear to watch anymore.

This was how I got my first glimpse into the horrifying truth behind cow slaughter in India. That was a few months ago. The narration above is from a gut-wrenching video that is deeply disturbing. Although the footage was than a decade old, I was a little hopeful that such practices had stopped by now.

But the little optimism I had vanished after watching another video earlier this week.

This video had live footage of the conditions in which these cattle are transported across state boundaries for slaughter. Such transportation of cattle is illegal. But as the narrator of the first video clip says:

“There is a law. But it is no match for the bribes (and) corruption.”

The law is almost never enforced. The cows and buffaloes are transported in trucks jammed chock-a-block against each other, barely able to move.

They are driven through the harsh sun of the day and the rains at night, without food or water, four to five days at a stretch – on their long, appalling final journey to imminent slaughter. During this “death march”, “The cattle routinely suffer serious injuries such as broken pelvises, legs, ribs and horns.”

Some of them die during their journey. The ones that are alive are often trapped beneath their bodies. By law, no more than six heads of cattle should be allowed in a truck and each animal must have a space of  two meters square. In reality, they are lucky if they have any space to turn their heads around.

“Overcrowding leads them to gouge and blind each other with their huge horns

Babies and the weaker animals often fall…and are smothered or trampled

By the time they are unloaded (at the slaughterhouse) half have collapsed from injury or exhaustion or are dead.

(They) are left in the sun without water, food or medical care 

As hard it is to watch, slaughter is the only relief these animals get.”

Is there no one to speak up against this monstrosity? This outrageous, inhumane “business” of cattle transportation and slaughter?

We do of course have the usual charade of laws – including those meant to prevent animal cruelty. One such law mandates that “Every State Government shall by notification in the Official Gazette, establish, as soon as may be and in any event within six months from the date of commencement of these rules, a society for every district in the State to be the SPCA in that district”.

The date of the ordinance is 26th March 2001. Presumable the process of forming SPCAs in all the districts has been completed by now.

But in all my travels across India, I have hardly heard of these centres in any district, except  perhaps the large metros.

I certainly have not seen them commenting or taking any action of either of the two videos I mentioned above.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that the “Directive Principles” in Constitution actually suggest a total ban on cow slaughter (Article 48, Part IV; Directive Principles of State Policy). Not just the Directive principles, the Supreme Court has ruled on this matter too.

But this “business” flourishes.

And as in the case of most such “businesses” there are mafias – and there is collusion. Collusion between the enforcers and businessmen. Collusion between officials who turn a blind eye and those that have figured out the economics of making a profit in spite of all these “hidden” costs.

None of this is “secret”. Even the “routes” of such transport are well known.

What about a complete ban on Cow Slaughter?

We were almost there once – in 1954 – when Nehru threatened to resign if the Bill was passed. Then again during AB Vajpayee’s government.

But nothing came out of it – either then or now.

In the meantime, the Supreme Court has already ruled that total ban on slaughter of cows and all calves is valid. It has also ruled that a total ban on slaughter of she-buffaloes, breeding bulls and working bullocks is valid too.  Of course, none of this is followed in practice.

So what can you do?

Well one easy thing to do is to call your local SPCA and ask them whether they are aware of these facts.

You could also try calling or writing to your MLA or MP, asking them to raise this matter in Parliament and requesting an investigation into this organised, large-scale smuggling of cattle across state and international borders. That might just help – a little.

But the easiest thing to do is to share this information with others.Make them aware of the scale and magnitude of this atrocity, this inhumane “business” that seems to thrive in a country that considers this humble, meek animal as sacred and reveres it as “Gou-Mata”.  Hopefully that might lead to change. Jai Hind, Jai Bharat!

Related Post: On Cow Slaughter etc..

References: The first video (courtesy PETA): and the second video (courtesy Temple Worshippers Society): (neither are suitable for children and may not be suitable for work)

A brief record (and history) of various legislative initiatives in the direction of ban on Cow Slaughter.

* The law is “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Establishment and Regulation of Societies for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Rules, 2001 that came into force on 26th March 2001. www.moef.nic.in_legis_awbi_awbi18

Re. cattle smuggling across international borders, pl read: “Cattle smuggling to Bangladesh is a flourishing industry” and Cattle go easily across the border fence, easier for smugglers where there’s none

This post also appeared on my blog over at Times of India.