When the whole of India is preparing for a grand programme called “Vishwa Mangal Gogram Yatra”, the Aila-storm hit West Bengal is tuning to a completely different music as more than 1,500 cows were washed away into the high sea with the Aila fury and another thousand cows died on ground during the storm. The dead bodies of these cows had created a serious health problem for the surviving people in the area. Now very few cows have survived. But the question is how long they will survive? Because not a single blade of grass is available in the flood-hit area let alone one can think of the cow-feed. Feeding the surviving cows and other animals is a great problem. Unfortunately this problem is not getting proper attention of the volunteers coming to render relief to the flood-hit suffering people except in areas where RSS and its sister organisation Bastuhara Sahayata Samity’s workers have gone for relief work. But they had to take at least ten days to reach out the affected remote areas of North and South 24-Parganas. These workers met one Dhruva who said that he himself had cremated at least 100 cows and another 150 cows’ dead bodies were thrown into the nearby river.
Many villages of these two districts are situated on Bangladesh border. The additional curse that has come down to the people of these areas is the frequent entry of Bangladeshi dacoits in these Indian villages to rob the flood-affected people. As cash and materials are not available in quite comfortable number they are forcefully taking away young girls and cows. In both the cases strong resistance is coming from the villagers. Indian security forces are there but not in sufficient number and not in remote places as well. Where these dacoits are not getting any chance to plunder, they are approaching people to buy the homestead animals like cows, goats etc. There is no cattle feed for these animals. Whatever little materials are coming, they are consumed by human beings. Even drinking water is not available for these hapless animals. Water is everywhere there, but all water is saline. As in ‘Ancient Mariner’ poem the poet said that “Water, water everywhere, not a drop to drink”, that kind of situation is prevailing here.
Taking advantage of this situation, the Bangladeshi dacoits are approaching those people who still own cows and goats for purchasing them. They become the owners for Rs 200/- to Rs. 300/- for each cow and Rs. 20/- to Rs. 30/- for each goat. The market price of each cow is ranging between Rs. 2,000/- and Rs. 3,000/- and each goat is ranging between Rs. 500/- and Rs. 600/-. The owners know that the Bangladeshi purchasers will sell these animals to Bangladeshi butchers in exchange of large amount. The owner’s problem is that these starving cows and goats are on the brink of death. They cannot keep them alive for long. So as part of distress sale they are rather compelled to sell the animals at least in the process they can gain some money.
But most unfortunate part of the story is that the purchasers of those cows and goats could not make these animals walk with them because those starving animals are very weak. Hence after purchasing the animals they are being butchered in front of the owners and they are compelled to tolerate these ghastly acts of purchasers. It is further reported that this beef they carry with them to Bangladesh for exporting to Arab countries. When asked by reporters, the owners pleaded that they had no idea of the purchaser’s motive. Our only motive was to send the cows and goats to safe places so that they can survive. Our only concern was to save them. But those rogues from Bangladesh took advantage of the situation and did the mischief.
These incidents took place in Chandipur in Gosaba block, Hemnagar and Jogeshgunj in Hingalgunj block and stray incidents of this type took place in areas like Gadkhali, Pathankhali, Mollakhali etc, villages of the same block. Further deep into the sea there is one island called Marichjhanpi where not a single inhabitant is there. Fishermen of the area wanted to settle down there so that catching fish could be done easily. But government did not allow them. The government had reserved this island for ‘Tiger Project’. This time government of West Bengal has also taken the advantage of the situation and put up wooden fencing surrounding the whole island so that no human can enter into it. In this connection I want to highlight one incident where a tiger died during the flood and got washed away into the sea. Media both print and electronic had put so much importance on this news, but they did not even care to look into sorry state of ‘Gomata’. We can only say, Gomata, please forgive them.