Hyderabad: As Bakrid or Eid-ul-Adha festival nears, cow protection organisations or gau rakshak vigilante groups, usually referred to as Gauraksha Dals, become more active in the city and Telangana. However, a closer look into their network also shows that these vigilantes are now in fact a part of a syndicated paid gig, as absurd as it sounds.
In Telangana and Hyderabad, very few know that gau rakshaks are thoroughly organized with lakhs of rupees being spent on the cause by the organizations. “A sort of competition is going on between the cow protection committees to outdo each other before Eid. It is all about paid workers now,” said a senior police official on condition of anonymity.
The Telangana and Hyderabad police has come to know that gau rakshaks are paid between Rs. 6,000 to Rs. 8,000 depending upon one catch. These vigilante organisations are hiring the youth to stop vehicles transporting cattle, to hand it over to the police. “Skirmishes are reported very often, that is why we are regularly warning people not to violate law and inform us instead of going for confrontations on roads, which lead to law and order problems,” said the official.
Lured by the money and the supposed cow protection cause, many youngsters are joining the cow protection committees to become gau rakshaks. “Vehicles are provided by the organisations and also arrangements for food and tea are made. After a catch, group members get money more like honorarium for their service,” he explained.
The Telangana has police identified around eight animal welfare organizations as active in the tri commissionerates of Hyderabad, Cyberabad and Rachakonda. At least four are linked to the persons who are members of Hindutva groups. The organisations get funds to support the cause too.
With frequent incidents of confrontations between gau rakshaks and cattle traders, the Hyderabad police has begun to keep a close watch on these groups to ensure that things do not go out of control.
The Hyderabad, Cyberabad, and Rachakonda police commissioners also held meetings with different departments of the government and NGOs on this front recently. They discussed in length about the growing numbers of gau rakshaks every year in Telangana. A separate meeting was held by the police for butchers and cattle trader’s community to create awareness about animal welfare laws.
A couple of weeks ago, a group of cattle transporters filed a complaint at the Rajendranagar police station against one Kallu Singh, who was reportedly harassing and extorting money from them.
Following a series of cases, the Tahreek Muslim Shabban Telangana and A. P Joint Action Committee announced it will be starting protection groups to allow safe transportation of the cattle to the city for Bakri Eid. A delegation also met senior police officials in this regard.