“The animals were being transported illegally without any document. Further, they were being taken in extremely cruel conditions in violation of animal protection laws, which includes the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, Cow Slaughter Act and the Transport of Animals Rules, 1978.”
—Pratap Sadangi , MLA Nilgiri?
Rampant illegal trafficking of cows has been noticed in Odisha despite of clear instructions from the Odisha High Court to take necessary steps to curb the same. The traffickers have started using the railways for illegal trafficking of cows. This shocking incident was revealed recently, when 27 buffaloes were rescued from a Howrah bound train at Cuttack Railway Station due to intervention of Bajrang Dal activists. Buffaloes were being taken to Howrah from Sikandarabad in East Coast Express. Three people belonging to Uttar Pradesh were arrested by the police in this connection.
The incident has also put a question mark on the role of railway officials. According to the information, on April 20, Bajrang Dal activists lead by Prant Gauraksha Pramukh Bhupesh Nayak and Nilgiri MLA Pratap Sadangi halted the Howrah-bound Hyderabad-Hatia Express at the station at about 8.15 am. They found the bullocks crammed in a wagon latched to the tail end of the train. As tension prevailed with the workers squatting on the tracks to prevent onward movement of the train, the Government Railway Police (GRP) and Railway Police Force (RPF) officials seized the animals. The train was let off without the bogey as the animals were shifted to the gaushala at Choudwar.
Sadangi allegedly said, “The animals were being transported illegally without any document. Further, they were being taken in extremely cruel conditions in violation of animal protection laws, which includes the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, Cow Slaughter Act and the Transport of Animals Rules, 1978.”
Nayak said, “We were informed by our Andhra Pradesh unit about the illegal transport of bullocks to Howrah for slaughter. We found the animals in cruel and pitiable conditions inside the bogey. They were packed inside in asphyxiating conditions without any ventilation or food and water. We also suspected the role of Railway officers in this case. We believe that this type of illegal transportation of cattles cannot take place without support of Railway officials.”
As per the Transport of Cattle Rules, no wagon should carry more than six cattle and the average space between animals should not be less than two square metres.
Each consignment should bear a label in bold red letters displaying name, address of the consignor and consignee along with the details of the animals and sufficient amount of food and water for them. The wagons should have proper ventilation.