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At ‘cow hospital’ in Punjab, signs of sword and acid attacks on bovines

Farmers getting rid of stray cattle through cruel means, says caretaker, they say ‘protecting crops’

Written by Divya Goyal | Jagraon (punjab) | Updated: July 14, 2017 6:05 pm
There are 115 cows at the facility run by Kulwinder Singh (right). Gurmeet Singh

At a huge shed in Punjab’s only ‘gau hospital,’ a cow writhes in pain; fresh blood seeps through bandages that have been used to cover stab wounds in its stomach and legs. Just when the animal looks like it may lose consciousness, a group of workers haul it into a corner, where a mobile intravenous drip is rushed in and a needle is inserted into its foot.

Faced with increasing numbers of stray cattle and tighter regulation regarding the sale of their ageing livestock, farmers in Punjab are resorting to cruel methods to get rid of them, says Kulwinder Singh, (38), who runs the Baba Gau Hira Hospital, which treats injured cows, at Kaunke Kalan village in Ludhiana district. “Stray cows are being attacked with acid and swords and are being burnt with matchsticks. Some even have pepper applied in their eyes and udders. Each month we rescue at least 60-70 such cows,” he says.

Injured cows being treated at Baba Hira Ji Cow Hospital at village KonkeKalan near Jagraon in Ludhiana.Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh

Even those left on the roads and streets have it no better, says Kulwinder. “We find all sorts of human waste, iron objects, plastic and garbage in the stomachs of dead stray cows. It is what the abandoned animal has been feeding on for months,” he adds. As per the state-run Punjab Gau Sewa Commission, over one lakh stray cattle roam Punjab’s streets, most of which are the exotic cross-bred Holstein Friesian (HF) cows, generally abandoned by farmers after they turn infertile or stop providing milk.

Kulwinder’s facility, some 40 km from Ludhiana, houses some 115 wounded or diseased cattle, 90 per cent of which are HF cows. While the veterinary hospital at the Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU) treats all sorts of animals and there are privately-run cow shelters, the Baba Gau hospital is the only one that exclusively treats injured cows.

Kulwinder Singh (right) treating injured cows at Baba Hira Ji Cow Hospital at village KonkeKalan near Jagraon in Ludhiana.Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh

Kulwinder began work in 2011, initially rescuing stray cattle before opening the ‘cow hospital’ on half an acre of land handed over by a village resident. He runs the facility through donations and monetary help from his brother in the US. “Some farmers give us fodder and some veterinarians don’t take fees. We still spend at least Rs 3 lakh a month, which includes the salaries of around 14 employees and most importantly medicines and fuel for our ambulance,” he says.

The ambulance, fitted with a hydraulic ramp, was bought last year at a cost of Rs 6.5 lakh. “We bought it in instalments and now it is convenient to rescue cows from nearby districts too,” says Kulwinder, dressed in a orange kurta and turban.

The hospital has a 24×7 helpline number (82733-82733), which receives calls regarding injured animals from Jalandhar, Barnala, Amritsar and, Pathankot. Once a call comes in, it sends an ambulance and its workers to pick up the injured animal. Cows that are successfully treated are shifted to the Faridkot gaushala with which the centre has a tie up.

Injured stray cows brought for treatment at Baba Hira Ji Cow Hospital at village KonkeKalan near Jagraon in Ludhiana.Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh

The 38-year-old says his love for cows is not due to religious conviction. “I opened this cow hospital because I cannot see them in pain. It is inhumane to leave them dying on the roads after using them for milk and other benefits,” he says. He also says he has not received any help from either the state or central governments. “My file for free power supply for the hospital is pending with the administration for months. Not a single politician from the BJP or Congress or any other party has offered us any help. We don’t need it but then how are you a gau rakshak if you can’t help those actually working for cows?” asks Kulwinder.

While he highlights the cruelty being shown to stray cattle, Kulwinder believes it is the handiwork of some errant farmers. “We are not in favor of slaughtering any animal but genuine traders should not be harassed. Farmers need to be educated about the benefits of indigenous varieties and the correct ways to manage the HF breed,” he says. Daljit Singh Gill, president, Punjab Dairy Farmers Association (PDFA), the largest association of dairy farmers in the state, admits there is a problem but adds that it is only “bound to increase”. “Small farmers are going through hell as their crops are being damaged by stray animals. Now with Yogi Adiyanath becoming the CM of Uttar Pradesh, cattle trade has become more difficult. How can farmers be blamed for attacking animals destroying their crop?” Gill asks.

Dr A S Nanda, Vice-Chancellor, GADVASU, says,”We in India talk about cow welfare but abandon them on the roads. In England, for instance, cow slaughtering is not banned but their cattle welfare index is way higher than us.”

Punjab Gau Sewa commission chief Kimti Bhagat says the government is looking at ways to reduce stray cattle numbers. “We are working on viable methods like importing of semen from the US to produce only female cattle, which farmers don’t abandon,” he says.

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  1. Q
    Jul 14, 2017 at 8:07 pm
    The sacred Gau Matas are dying like Cows in slaughter houses. No facilities and qualified vaterneris are provided by Modi's government. Shame on all Hindutava parties.
    1. R
      Jul 14, 2017 at 2:51 pm
      Only solution to 'cow-problems' is that every individual calling himself Hindu a supporter of Hinduttuva must adapt 1-2 cows even if stray take responsibility of those. Those in whose religions cow is NOT a sacred is just another animal should not be compelled to regard it sacred, however they should stop eating it's beef as a courtesy, but responsibility of cows lies squarely on Hindu cow Bhakts. Whoever Hindu refuses cow should be thrown out of Hindu religion and be registered as Muslim Christian or parsi. If the Hindus can't manage cows, Israelies should be called in as best friends to import freely cows on promise of not slaughtering. Israelies always keep the promise. Thus excess cow problem or menace once solved, India will become greatest. There's no need to anything else.
      1. Deepak Vohra
        Jul 14, 2017 at 12:42 pm
        hats off to him for doing this noble work. He is a true Indian Where is BJP, VHP, other so called hindu fake organizations? Why don't they help?
        1. R
          Jul 14, 2017 at 10:31 am
          Pls send all these stray cows to the houses of so called "GAU RAKSHAKS". Wait for 1 to 2 years, we will hv cows and bulls inside parliament and presidential palace.... The government made the rule without thinking of the consequences. Now these cows / cattles are suffering more. Maybe this is what MODI Goverment wanted, to increasing the sufferings of cows and cattles. GAU RAKSHAKS, if you all really care for Gau Mata then please start adopting old and sick cows.
          1. M
            Jul 14, 2017 at 10:18 am
            A cow is more useful then any Congie or Commie!
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