For decades, Kerala and West Bengal where cow slaughter is legal, are the sink-holes of cattle from across the country – where they are brought to packed in trucks, sometimes with legs broken so they can be dumped one on top of the other and be even more tightly packed and brought in 1000 mile forced marches from as far as UP, Punjab and Rajasthan into West Bengal. It is ironical that cows not just be given for slaughter in a country that considers cow to be ‘holy, but that they are made to go through this extreme pain for days/weeks before they are eventually killed and sold by the kilo for their body parts. This is an account by Rajdeep Datta Roy of transportation of cows and calves for slaughter into West Bengal is common from across Indian states. The pictures are from Bihar and West Bengal. All text and pictures from Rajdeep Datta Roy. Captions are by Rakesh Shukla.
2 marked pictures have been taken in Patna Rural district. Even then, it was a Bengal-registered truck with a load of bullocks headed for slaughter. You can see from the pictures, the trucks carrying govansh (cows, bulls, bullocks/oxes, calves) have the following hallmarks and can easily be spotted:
- In Bihar, UP and Jharkhand, these trucks have their rear-ends completely boarded up as they still don’t operate with the impunity with which they operate in Bengal.
- The inside walls of the trucks have sacks filled with hay to provide some padding to the animals when the vehicle sways.
- In Bengal, no attempt is made to conceal and the animals are carried in two decks. The larger ones standing on the load platform of the truck and the smaller ones on a double-decking made of planks on top. The animals on top are bound hand and foot so that they don’t jump off.
- Usually, the number plate is either mutilated or caked with mud/dung so that even if one wants to, the number cannot be jotted down.
- Most of the trucks used for transportation are owned by Muslims and carry Islamic symbols
- None of these trucks, either inside Bengal or the ones in UP, Bihar, which bring the hapless animals to the Bengal border, have valid livestock permits. To get a livestock permit, the owner has to pay more and he has to redesign his truck. Once redesigned, it cannot carry so many cattle and hence the transportation cost per animal shoots up. While the double-decker trucks carry 40-50 stuffed in, a livestock-permit equipped truck can carry 6-8 at most. I humbly submit that for starters, we can throw a spanner in their works by insisting that all cattle-trucks must have livestock permits. The government also earns more revenue if it gets more applications for livestock permits.
- National Highways Authority of India and the various toll plaza operators should be asked to charge per animal and capture footage of such trucks on their CCTV cameras.
- Despite all attempts to conceal the cargo, cattle trucks give off a smell and their sides have dung, urine and dried up hay trickling down. So, to an observant policeman or an activist it wouldn’t be too difficult to spot such a truck.
- Another dead giveaway is the fact that such trucks always have 4-5 people sitting on top of the driver’s cabin and making frequent trips to the loading area from the top even when the vehicle is on the run, to settle down some animal or the other which may have twisted its ropes or started shying etc.
- None of these vehicles have the full details of the consignor and the consignee pasted on the walls of the truck and available with the crew. Transportation by rail would have involved ding this and is one of the reasons they avoid rail transport of cattle.