The Progressive Dairy Farmers’ Association (PDFA) has accused the Punjab Police of shielding the activists of Hindu right wing, who, they alleged, were harassing them in the name of cow protection. The association members said dairy farmers transporting livestock were being assaulted by the cow-vigilante groups.
At a press conference in Chandigarh on Monday, the association members feared that the livestock trade in Punjab will collapse if the state government did not take measures to rein in these elements. They cited incidents wherein ‘gau rakshaks’ assaulted the drivers transporting the livestock.
“The government has created a cow security board, which comprises shady people, who, along with cow-protection groups, beat up traders and dairy farmers and extort money from them,” PDFA managing director Daljit Singh said.
“At the behest of the RSS, the state government wants to promote indigenous cows, which is not a commercially-viable option for dairy farmers,” he said, adding milk-producers across the state do a business of Rs 2,500 crore annually.
He said the government recent directive to the dairy farmers to procure the ‘no objection certificate’ for ferrying animals was not being fairly implemented. “Hundreds of applications for such NOCs remain pending for days in the offices of deputy commissioners,” he said.
The PDFA said a big scam was going on at Dabwali cattle market in Haryana along the Punjab border in Muktsar in the name of NOCs. “As DCs take their own time in issuing NOCs, dairy farmers from across the state go to Dabwali cattle market for the NOCs and have to pay Rs 2,000 as market fee,” said Amarjit Singh, a livestock trader from Jagraon.
“The cattle transport cost has gone up from Rs 20,000 to Rs 60,000,” he said. He cited a recent incident where drivers were first thrashed by ‘gau rakshaks’ and trucks impounded by Bathinda Cantonment police.
“Complaints lodged with the police boomeranged on us in the form of harassment by the ‘Shiv Sena’ activists and the cops only watched mutely,” he said.
Bathinda SSP Swapan Sharma acknowledged impounding of the said vehicles, saying the drivers did not carry a permit needed for transporting the cows. On Shiv Sena’s harassing the dairy farmers, he said there was no such thing.
Patiala deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat said NOCs to dairy farmers were being issued in a day.