Police in Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh have lodged an FIR against eight named and 20 unidentified persons for allegedly herding stray cattle inside a government primary school after breaking open the lock on the school’s gate in Nagaria Bhujurgh village in the Jalalabad police station area late January 2 night.
By the time a team of the district administration and police reached the school on January 3 however, the animals had been led out of the school premises.
Following an inquiry, an FIR was lodged under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and for damage to property, Station House Officer of Jalalabad police station, Harender Singh, said. No one has been arrested so far.
In a video conference with district magistrates on January 2, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath reportedly directed that stern action be taken against those who had locked up the animals in a government building, as well as against the owners of the cattle.
Adityanath also directed the district magistrates to ensure that stray cattle across the state are shifted to cow shelters by January 10.
On January 1, the Uttar Pradesh cabinet had cleared a proposal to impose a “Gau Kalyan cess” (cow welfare cess) on eight “profitmaking” public sector departments to generate funds for setting up and maintaining temporary cow shelters across the state.
Nagaria Bhujurgh village, which has mixed population of Hindus and Muslims, is around 40 km from Shahjahanpur town.
Block Education Officer, Jalalabad (Shahjahanpur), Anuj Kumar, said that on January 3 morning when principal Shikha Shukla reached the school, she found the lock of the main gate broken, and cattle including cows and bulls in large numbers, on the premises. Children had gathered outside the school.
Shukla informed the district administration and police, but soon some people arrived and removed the animals from the school. “We have no idea where the local farmers took the animals from the school. After the campus was cleared, the principal started the classes,” Anuj Kumar said.
Jalalabad Circle Officer Shiv Prasad Dubey said that on getting information, he along with Sub-Divisional Magistrate Vijay Sharma went to the school, but the animals had been removed by then.
“We conducted an inquiry, during which we recorded the statements of several local residents. After allegations were found true, we decided to lodge an FIR in the matter because the villagers had broken the lock of the main gate of the school to put the animals inside,” Dubey said. The animals had been brought from the village and neighbouring areas, he added.
“In the past, local farmers have never complained of having problems with stray animals. Some people appear to have done this to create mischief, “ Shiv Prakash said.
Shahjahanpur District Magistrate Amrit Tripathi said, “It seems that some people are trying to disturb the atmosphere of the district and provoke the police. We are trying to find out their motive.” He added, “There is no issue of stray animals in our district.”
Last week, farmers locked up stray cattle in four government schools in Mathura. The farmers alleged that the animals were damaging their crops.
On December 29, when the district administration was setting the animals free from the premises of a government primary school at Karab village, four cows were found dead. An autopsy showed they had died due to asphyxia.
Earlier on December 25, farmers locked cattle inside a government primary school at Tamotia village in Aligarh. A team of district administration and police rushed to the school and sent the animals to a gaushala in the Tappal area of the city on government-contracted vehicles. A policeman was deployed in each vehicle.