This is an eyewitness account by Radhika Bose Makar in Kolkota (formerly Calcutta) of her intercepting a truck with 39 calves squeezed in, all with legs tied, being taken for slaughter. Radhika runs CAPE Foundation and focuses on spreading awareness amongst school children, youth and slum dwellers through workshops and awareness programs on protection for animals, against cruelty and environment related issues. The text and pictures are used by Radhika’s permission and without changes.
March 1, Calcutta:
We spotted a tiny matador on AJC Bose road, ferrying what we later counted to be 39 calves . Their feet were tied and they had been squeezed into the tiny matador thrown one on top of the other being taken for slaughter. We forced the matador to stop and sought help from a couple of policemen nearby.
With the help of the police, we managed to stop the carriers and take them to Hastings police station where the driver was arrested for not carrying any documents or permits either for the vehicle of the calves. Later the CSPCA, on request of the police, came and filed a complaint along with us.
As we tried to take these very thin and scrawny calves off the matador, we found one had died of suffocation, buried under the weight of two other cows. We watched helplessly as there was no way we could get her out on time. The legs of the calves were so tightly tied together that they could not stand even after freeing them. Almost all were skin and bones, thirsty hungry and dehydrated. We immediately called for help and a group of volunteers organized some food and water for them, to get some energy. Later, another cow died of the trauma.
It took us 3 hours and 4 matadors to rescue the animals and transfer them to Rajasthan Gokalayan Samity, a goshala (cow shed) in Barasat.
The case is being heard in Bankshal court. On the first hearing, the driver was let go after pleading guilty with a 100 rupee fine and one night in the lock up only to be back the next day with his team demanding back the cattle. The calves, according to the judge, could not be allowed to be kept in any non government shelter and has now directed the police to transfer them to the Kolkata Police cattle shed. It is common knowledge that all livestock get auctioned off from this cattle shed every 15 days, illegally.
We have pleaded to the court to prevent that (cattle being transferred to the Kolkata police cow shed) and if this plea is rejected, we shall demand visitation rights to ensure that they are not auctioned off. The main case is to be heard on 5th May.
The police have been very helpful and cooperative throughout and even came forward to tell us that they were happy that they were able to do this. We need funds to fight this case which will be a beginning and a bench mark to prevent such horrendous acts of shameless cruelty in the future.
The issue of cattle smuggling is a big one. More than 15 million cows are smuggled across to Bangladesh every year according to government estimates – where Bangladesh uses them for domestic consumption and also export of beef to the Middle East and Muslim populations in western countries (since beef from a Muslim country is deemed to be halaal meat). India does not allow legal export of these cows due to political considerations – it fears right wing reprisal over the sale of the holy cow. The BSF and customs at the border are partakers of smuggling of cows, and there is a syndicate that brings cows from all over northern and western India for smuggling to Bangladesh and all through West Bengal.
We are not against people eating beef. Or eating any meat whatsoever. But we demand that animals slaughtered for their meat have a right to protection from cruelty and torture. Attached are some of the many the videos and photographs taken of the incident. The last picture is of the cow that died of suffocation.