Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma
In 2016, soon after Haryana Government passed its Cow Protection Law, The Quint visited Mewat in Haryana and found that the law had simply given the 'Gau Rakshaks' a free pass to be more violent and target more innocent people, and it had also failed to stop cow smuggling.
Five years later, The Quint had once again visited Mewat to find out whether cows are really being protected under the law? Are there enough Gaushalas to shelter and feed cows?
What we found out was that not only has the government failed to stop cow smuggling and slaughter but also that the law has become a machinery used by police and 'Gau Rakshaks' to harass innocent people; particularly Muslims.
The Quint spoke to various stake holders including the gau shala owners, gau Rakshak, Haryana police, people who are facing trial under the Cow Protection Act and those who've been acquitted to get to the depth of the matter.
"I don't know why the police picked me up. I was setting up my fruit cart. The police said I sell beef but I had nothing in my possession."Juber, resident of Mewat
27-year-old Juber was arrested in 2017 for cow slaughter and possession of beef. Juber got bail in a month but his trial took four years. He was acquitted in March 2021. The lab report concluded that the meat in his possession was neither buffalo nor cow.
There is enmity in the village, people try to entrap their rivals. This happens a lot in my village.Juber, Resident of Mewat
Though acquitted, Juber fears being entrapped again. His lawyers claim the police acts on gau rakshak's orders and not on evidence.
'Haryana Govt Has Failed to Stop Cow Slaughter': Gau Rakshak
“Gau rakshaks support the ruling govt. Police has directions from the top to listen to them. It’s a waste of time as they can’t prove anything in the court. Police tell us they listen to the gau rakshaks to save their jobs.”Tahir Dewla, Lawyer
Gau rakshaks, however, maintain that the Haryana police has failed to stop cow slaughter.
"Cow slaughter goes on at night, many cows are slaughtered daily. The administration is not helping us. To say that they help gau-rakshaks is a lie. Cow smugglers make a mockery of the law. Mostly policemen take bribes and do not charge real culprits. In the last five years, we got many police cases registered, but no one has been convicted."Lokesh Singhla, Gau Rakshak
'I Was Assaulted In Juvenile Home'
Arif (name changed) was a minor when he was arrested by the Haryana police in 2017 from his father's restaurant on the charges of beef possession.
“I left home at 7:30am for college. I was waiting for the bus at our restaurant. The police came and took me and the staff away. I said I was going to college, why are we being taken into custody. I said I’m a student, talk to my father. But the police did not listen and started beating me.”Arif, resident of Nuh
Years have gone by but the police has failed to produce the most crucial evidence, the lab report on the meat.
Arif claimed that he was brutally assaulted juvenile home.
'There is a Decrease But Cows Are Still Slaughtered': Police
“The new law has not made a difference as the government failed to implement it. Due to lack of evidence, police fails to prove cases in the court.”Baldev Sharma, Vice President of Haryana Gaushala Sangh
85-year-old Baldev Sharma, the Vice President of Haryana Gaushala Sangh said that the 'gau raksha' law has not worked.
Even the police accepted that the cow smuggling and slaughtering have not stopped.
"There is a decrease, but still many cows are slaughtered. It happens at night. When a police raid happens, the criminals escape from the spot. In court, they plead not guilty. Also, no witnesses come forward, and some witnesses turn hostile."Narendra Bijarniya, Superintendent of Police, Mewat
Gaushalas Have No Financial Support From The Govt
“(Cow slaughter) has not decreased. It has increased. There is no change in cow slaughtering. No matter which political party is in power, they don’t care about cow slaughter, they only care about their votes.”Prabhati Lal, Gaushala in-charge
We also found that the intended beneficiary of the Cow Protection Act – the cow – was actually worse off than before. The Haryana government has constructed new gaushalas in the last five years but has not followed it up with adequate financial support.
Those running Haryana’s gaushalas told The Quint that they are entirely dependent on the local community for fodder and financial aid. Many have run up debts up to Rs 20 lakhs in their attempt to keep the gaushalas running.
In November 2015, Haryana's BJP government passed a cow protection law 'Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act 2015.
In September 2016, The Quint reported despite the new law, cattle smuggling had not stopped.
Be it 2016 or 2021, the real picture is the same – that the Cow Protection Law is failing to protect the cow. Cow smuggling and cow slaughter has not stopped. And there’s no money to care for cows in the gaushalas. So, why was the gau raksha law passed, why were the gaushalas set up? Maybe it was just a sham to appease a vote bank.