Bodhu held onto two milch buffaloes and two calves all day on Saturday at a cattle fair in Jaipur. On other days, he may have gone home with Rs 60,000. “But the most I have been offered today is Rs 40,000; some dared to offer Rs 30,000,” he said.
Pehlu Khan had purchased cattle from the same fair last week before gau rakshaks attacked him while he was on his way back home in Haryana. Pehlu, 55, died two days later. The closure of illegal slaughter houses in Uttar Pradesh had earlier hit the weekly fair. The lynching has made things worse.
Jaipur Municipal Corporation (JMC’s) revenue from the fair declined to Rs 2.94 last Saturday from Rs 5.60 lakh on March 25. The collections on Saturday went down to Rs 2.15 lakh.
“It is off season and we should have earned Rs 4 lakh for the day,” said JMC revenue inspector and fair in charge Yuvraj Meena. He confirmed that the receipts Khan was carrying after buying the cattle from the fair were genuine. The lynching has led to a decline in number of cows at the fair. “For every two cows, there were three buffaloes. Now there is just about one cow for five buffaloes,” said Meena.
Ravi Saraswat, a JMC staffer, said that the government, buyers, sellers, middlemen and truckers were suffering losses. “There used to be big businessmen from Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, who would come with trucks and buy dozens of cattle. We barely see any of them now.’’
JMC staffer Mohammad Aslam said that he would hardly have time to breathe while issuing papers at the fair. But a handful of buyers and sellers had turned up on Saturday.
“I used to buy and sell four to five buffaloes and cows each week here for profit. But a buffalo, which may have earned me Rs 32,000, is now being sold for Rs 24,000. I sold three today for loss of about Rs 15,000,” said Ghulam Hussain. A truck driver said that earlier he would transport cattle to places as far as Alwar. “But now I ferry cattle only in and around Jaipur.”
Munna Qureishi, whose two buffaloes remained unsold, said that he was hoping to get Rs 70,000 but people were scared. Mohanlal Sharma, who has been coming to the fair for nearly two decades, said that business will continue to be like this until fear of cow vigilantes goes away.
Mohammad Rafeeq, a resident of Haryana’s Nuh, said that earlier police would extort money. “Now you have these dacoits, who take your cattle, money, mobiles, vehicles and then reward you with a beating… There is value of animals but not of people,” he said.