Illegal Trade of Killing Cattle


Maneka Gandhi


Last week , on my way back from Etah , I stopped at Kachlapul , a long, narrow bridge over the Ganges river . In front of me was a small truck full of baby cows and buffaloes , bound for slaughter. I unloaded the truck and took down sixteen frightened little children , piled on top of each other. One was dead , two had broken legs. I gave them away to the local villagers. The driver/owner of the truck claimed he had never done this before ( as they all do , when I find them). The shopkeepers at the bridge were so angry that they pushed his truck over the cliff , but all of them admitted that dozens of such trucks came by every week . The animals are loaded onto the trucks at a daily cattle market in Soron and brought to a slaughterhouse in Badaun.

These cattle markets are the saddest place on earth. They are now found all over in India , in every district except mine , Pilibhit , where I packed them up ten years ago. They pretend to be farmers’ markets where animals are sold for ploughing or dairy calves to new owners. An enterprising orchard owner cuts down his mango orchard and levels the land till it is completely barren. Then he rents it out for a weekly or daily cattle market and each person using the space has to pay him. Permissions are given by the local district administration which pretend that this is a good step for farmers and the local police take the standard bribe from the owner, the buyer and the seller. Old cows , buffaloes or bullocks or very young male cattle are brought from all over the district , walked for dozens of miles . They are stood in the hot sun for hours without water or food. Trucks surround the place while the butchers haggle over their value, poke and prod them. Once the deal is struck , dozens are pulled by their tails  or beaten with heavy sticks and made to climb ramps into the trucks. As soon as they get into the space , a couple of boys break their legs and stuff them into a tight space by contorting their necks and pulling a rope through their noses and tying it to an iron rod across the top of the  truck. The next bullock or buffalo is then thrown on top of them. If a horn gets in the way, it is manually broken off. If a tail is the problem, it is broken and jammed underneath the body. In this way, a truck that can carry only 4 animals is stuffed with 35 – 50. A tempo that can carry two has up to 20. The animals are covered with tarpaulin and boarded up so no one can see them easily and taken miles away, a journey often lasting from 2-6 hours of utter agony, to an illegal slaughterhouse . They are pulled or thrown out from the truck , almost senseless with pain , and left there till their throats are slit. More than half come out dead but those are skinned anyway and their meat and hide sold.

The cattle that are not taken by truck are tied together by their noses and walked to the nearest slaughter areas, whipped every step of the way. Their ribs stick out painfully. If they hesitate even a little bit their tails are twisted and the stick thrust into their anuses.

These markets are illegal.  They have nothing to do with farmers. They are convenience cattle malls for illegal cattle killers. The entire trade is run by a tightly knit mafia of law breakers and the local administration are accomplices. According to the laws of the Government of India, no cattle market can be held unless there is adequate shade for the animals, water at every point and adequate food. Not more than two animals can be bought by one person. This is to ensure that they are being bought by genuine farmers for ploughing or dairy purposes. All animals have to be inspected by government vets that have been positioned on the spot. No trucks or any vehicles are allowed near the market nor can any animals be loaded on them.

None of these rules are followed. We just trapped two policemen standing near the market who suggested to our complainant that he too take some money and go away. These are the good guys. We have had more than twenty cases where the animal welfare activist who complains to the police with a written copy of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act rules, has been arrested by them on the basis of a complaint from the illegal buyers and truckers that he has been harassing them for money. In another case, when the market was stopped in a district in Haryana after a complaint , the butchers beat the complainant so severely that he had to be hospitalized. No action was taken against them by the watching local police who were angry that a source of their income had been stopped. The market was back in action two days later.

It is evil to abet evil. It is evil to tolerate evil. The police and local administrations are abetting this wicked genocide. But you allow it to carry on by tolerating the market near you. You need to take pictures, names and routes and then go to the local court and get it stopped. You need to harass the local district magistrate and police head till they stop being part of such naked corruption. Anyone who can break the laws of India so nakedly and in broad daylight in order to murder animals can and will do it to humans as well. Acccording to an internal police document in Uttar Pradesh , more than half this illegal cattle killing money is going for the procurement of guns and the spread of terrorism within India. So when you remain a mute spectator , remember that you are going to be the next victim.

To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in


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