The Anand Agriculture University (AAU) has reclaimed 10 goats that it had sold since last Friday after objections from animal rights activists over the posters that linked the sale of the goats to Bakri-Id festival, indicating that they were meant to be slaughtered.
The poster stated, “…On the Holy festival of Bakri Eid, the Anand Veterinary College will hold a sale of pedigree goats”.
However, after animal rights activists protested, the AAU management pulled down all the posters on Wednesday. The sale of the goats, used by the students for experimental learning, began on August 3 and was to go on till August 21.
The head of the livestock department, Dr Kishan Wadhwani, who had put up the posters, reportedly without consulting the Dean of College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry or the Vice-Chancellor, tendered a written apology to the university. The department also sent a letter apprising the district collector about the action taken.
A letter from the Dean, A M Thaker, to the city municipality stated, “A warning has been issued to the HoD and strict measures will be taken to ensure that such an incident is not repeated again. All the goats have been brought back and all the posters been removed.”
Bhavesh Solanki, who runs an organisation for rescue and rehabilitation of stray animals, led the protest against the sale of goats by the university. “It was only after the animal rights activists approached me that I learnt about the posters and we took necessary action immediately,” AAU Vice-Chancellor N C Patel said.
According to Patel, it was for the first time that the university conducted sale of goats. He said the move followed the decision at a meeting of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), two months ago, to sell goats reared at livestock farm complex (LMP) to local farmers for rearing and breed development and as means to generate revenue by the university. “They are not meant to be sold for slaughter purpose, but for rearing and breed development by farmers. This was the first such instance of selling goat under the ICAR scheme, but the approach was definitely objectionable. The HoD tried a marketing strategy to enhance sales which is not what we advocate or promote at all,” Patel added.
Wadhwani said that the experimental learning unit (ELU) was set up under the ICAR scheme of “Entreupreunership Developemental Rearing of Weaner Goats and Selling Unit” of which he was the university level co-ordinator. “As a part of the project, I am expected to generate revenue and profit for the university by selling goats and we have to submit reports. So to enhance the sales, I opted for these banners ahead of Bakri-Id. I had only 11 goats and had sold two but was yet to receive the money. Eight of them were booked but were here at our unit as the buyers would have taken them a few days before Bakri-Id,” said Wadhwani.
Through a notification issued on May 22, the Gujarat government banned auction of non-productive goats and sheep, saying the livestock should be sent to panjrapoles or gaushalas instead.
“We called on the numbers listed on the poster (posing as potential buyers), and were told that most of the goats have been booked. We approached the V-C and demanded that these animals be brought back. Our concern was that the government had banned sale of cattle, so how could this university go ahead with a sale like this and that too targeting a specific population on a specific occasion and displaying banners like this,” said Solanki.
Wadhwani said that he has written to the Animal Husbandry Department, seeking advice on what to do with the goats now.