Farmers in Uttar Pradesh have continuously been citing damage to their standing crops by herds of nilgai (blue bull), but many in the state fear killing the antelope, even with government’s permission. The reason: ‘gai’ (or cow) makes up for half of the antelope’s name and both farmers and officials fear that killing it may hurt religious sentiments.
However, a Bhartiya Janata Party has now come up with a “solution”. Ramchandra Yadav, the MLA from Rudauli seat in Faizabad district, says the entire confusion is about the name of antelope, which he says is ‘nilgah’ but is often mispronounced as nilgai, and reverting to the actual spelling can go a long way in controlling the animal.
Yadav says that Bihar model of killing ‘nilgah’ should be adopted “else the entire forest area should be barricaded” to protect the standing crops. The MLA moved an adjournment notice in the Assembly for steps to save crops from nilgah on Sunday. He claimed that rampaging nilgah herds destroy acres of standing crop and have even killed humans who try to chase them away. However, due to pandemonium in the House, the notice went unheard.
“It is actually ‘nilgah’ and not ‘nilgai’. There is no confusion in it. It has got nothing to do with cow. Either the forest area should be barricaded to avoid their intrusion in agricultural area else Bihar model should be adopted to kill them,” Yadav told The Indian Express.
In Bihar, the farmers are allowed to kill nilgai if the animal is destroying the crop.
Uttar Pradesh too has a provision for killing nilgai if they destroy crops. In UP Forest Department records, nilgai is mentioned as ‘vanroz’. As per a government order, which has been issued after acceptance from agriculture department, a committee headed by District Magistrate with Divisional Forest Officer as member secretary and District Agriculture Officer, District Veterinary Officer and District Horticulture Officer as members may fix monthly target for killing vanroz at district level. The target will be limited to maximum 100 animals or two per cent of the total ‘vanroz’ population in the district. The permission is issued with a restriction that the carcass will be buried and the animal’s body parts will not be carried or used.
However, Yadav says, “There are too many issues in seeking permission. There are problems even after killing it with permit. My constituency is part of Faizabad district, which is a sensitive place. There should be no restriction on its killing”.
With the request coming from a BJP MLA, even the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has taken a soft stance on the issue. “Firstly, there is confusion due to word ‘gai’ attached to it. It is actually not a cow breed, but is close to horse. They are destroying crops and there is no need to respect them by calling them gai,” Surendra Jain, national spokesperson VHP said.
Jain, however, said that he is against permission to kill any animal. “We are against killing of any animal, but there should be some control,” he added.
Facing a similar situation in Madhya Pradesh, the legislators there have reached a consensus in the Assembly to change the antelope’s name to ‘rojad’ in its rules.