I have tried to piece the entire chain of activities that lead to cow-related lynchings happening in India, the last eight years. Thanks to an excellent debate conducted by NDTV’s ‘The Big Fight’ show, with anchor Vikram Chandra. The key data points of that discussion, the whys, the whats and the hows, have all been listed below to stitch the cyclic nature of events. Being a banker myself, am data driven and fascinated by processes, always eager to join the dots and stitch the entire assembly line of events. Often the outcome is more interesting and helps separate perception vs reality!
34 – total cow related lynchings since 2010 as per ‘India Spend’ data.
56% – of the 34 victims above are Muslims.
34 – total child lifting related lynchings the last two years, 80% of the identified victims are Hindus.
Data flaws – ‘India Spend’ is a journalism data based organisation. The data they used, in this case, was sheerly based on ‘English newspaper reports’. It doesn’t factor reports from regional newspapers nor for the accuracy of its English counterparts. In short, it’s not data, it’s just anecdotal.
Why anecdotal – because the central government body, NCRB, doesn’t capture the necessary data.
English papers bias – Nowhere have they reported on police officers or NSG personnel killed by the dreaded cattle mafia. This is believed to be in high numbers. The English media is often accused of selective reporting. The fact that they have never bothered to expose the cattle smugglers network, bear further testimony.
Truth – more political lynching deaths have occurred in the states of Kerala and Bengal, the last six months, but doesn’t find adequate media focus.
The rural economy angle – Farmers are struggling to maintain cows as the cost of keeping a cow is high compared to the low returns.
What went wrong there – Aside milk, the cow potentially provides more benefits to the farmer. The cow dung (and urine) is considered an excellent organic fuel, fertiliser and pesticide. If you farm using cow dung over the soil, the soil stays highly fertile. Male cows give good and cheap ploughing options. Organic fertilizer ensures once the crop season is over, the farmer doesn’t need to replace the soil. Yet, farmers aren’t using this benefits and only restrict their revenue through cow milk.
Why – The Central government is pushing the free-LPG scheme. They are pushing for the use of tractors, expensive chemical fertilisers and pesticides – each of these products are produced by PSUs, where many government employees are employed.
Hence – Farmers selling off cows, the moment they see it as a non-viable asset.
A shortfall of cows – This is slowly taking us to a shortfall of cows situation – one reason why milk prices have been spiralling the past decade.
Next – Cattle traders transport cows.
4 – the number of cows allowed to be transported per truck as per government rules.
60 – the actual number of cows loaded on a truck (against the number 4) by cattle smugglers.
3 tiers – the cattle are loaded in 3 tiers inside one truck. The cows stacked on the lower floor eventually die, the middle floor stuffed cattle either die or get badly mutilated, the cattle on the top floor just about survive.
90% – of the 60 cows that are loaded, either get killed or mutilated during the journey.
Anger – Farmers who sell cattle and get angered on cow treatment by smugglers. Only Pelu Khan case was an exception as he wasn’t a smuggler and loaded only 3 cows in a truck. Bajrang Dal group activists misplaced his identity and lynched him. Other cases are all of the smugglers belonging to the cattle mafia.
Cow slaughter rule ban – was introduced by the Congress Government (do check graphics above), a data point easily forgotten.
Side effects: Yet in recent times, all this furore has ensured the leather industry is on a downward spiral. Costs have gone up and many small-scale tanneries have shut down.
Conclusion: For certain, these incidents seem more of an economic issue and a problem of selective reporting, than any ‘cow protection’ agenda, the political mud slugging class will make you believe. As the furore continues, saffron group antisocials (as mentioned by PM Narendra Modi himself) are taking it upon themselves to act as cow protectionists and join the flow. As for the poor bovines, there is little care or agenda.