Till the cows come home in Assam

With elections in Assam just three weeks away, cow protection vigilantes from North India have flocked to the State to “bust the routes” used to smuggle bovines into Bangladesh.

Seized cattle at Angrail in North 24 Parganas district in West Bengal, the hub of cattle smuggling in the region. — File Photo: Sushanta Patronobish

Gurpreet Singh, a member of the Punjab-based Gau Raksha Dal, told The Hindu that he had sent several dozen activists on a “secret mission” to Assam. The cow vigilante group has a two-year-old video on YouTube, in which the outfit’s activists are seen brandishing weapons, stopping trucks with cattle and ruthlessly beating drivers.

However, about their Assam adventure, Mr. Singh refused to share any details, saying it may put his men in danger since they operate in those districts of Assam where Muslims are bigger in number than Hindus.

However, The Hindu spoke to members of the Gau Gyan Foundation who are currently camping in Assam. Sudharshan Kaushik, a member, said he had been travelling in the “border areas” for about a week to find out how many cows were being “trafficked” from India to Bangladesh.

“So far, we have found out a massive nexus between the State government, the BSF (Border Security Forces) and smuggling gangs,” Mr. Kaushik said.

He said he was struggling to believe in the BJP-led government’s claim at the Centre that the number of cows smuggled to Bangladesh has come down in its 22-month long rule. Though Mr. Kaushik said his visit to poll-bound Assam was apolitical, he emphasised the absence of a cow protection law in the State.