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The Quint Investigation: The Real ‘Cow Boys’ of Haryana - Part 1

The Quint’s investigative report on how cows are still smuggled in Haryana, through a smuggler’s first-hand account.

Updated
Politics
5 min read

Do you think smuggling or cow slaughter is a communal issue?

Considering the fact that the cow has been hogging the limelight ever since the BJP government came to power – be it the Dadri lynching or gau raksha’s so-called ‘gau bhakti’ – it could seem that way. But you may want to think again.

The Quint investigates to find out whether ‘gau’ is actually treated as ‘mata’ by Hindus across India – or whether cow slaughter is a matter of convenience, perhaps even a source of money.

We chose to investigate in Haryana because November 2015 saw the state government implement a new cow protection law known as ‘Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act, 2015’. It is the most stringent law in the country, with rigorous punishment of up to 10 years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh. Under this law, it is a punishable offence for a cow to be transported within the state, or exported outside the state for slaughter.

A herd of cows in Gurgaon. (Photo: Poonam Agarwal/The Quint)

Interestingly, under this new law, ‘cows’ include bulls, bullocks, ox, heifers, and calves, as well as disabled, diseased or barren cows. A special cell had been created by the state government to handle the cases registered under this new law. So far, 289 FIRs have been registered by the police. Out of 289 cases, 95 FIRs are from Mewat in Haryana, where Muslims form 80% of the population and the remaining, Hindu. According to police sources, 245 Muslims and 24 Hindus are named in the 95 FIRs from Mewat.

The Quint visits the interiors of Mewat to speak to a few ‘cow boys’ who have been engaged in cow smuggling and slaughtering for almost a decade. How has the new law affected their business?

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Mohammad Akhlaq is a senior cow smuggler from Mewat. He has been in the cow-smuggling business for over two decades. But he now sells beef since smuggling cows involves too much risk.

Naye kanoon se kya aapke kaam mein koi asar hua hai? (Has the new cow protection law affected your work?)

Iss naye law ne police ke rate badha diya hai. Jaise, mujhe pakad liya toh 2 lakh do aur   teesre din zamanat ho jayegi. Aur agar 2 lakh nahi denge toh 307 lagegi aur 6 mahine baad zamanat hogi. (Police rates have gone up because of the new cow slaughter law. If I am caught by the police, I have to give them Rs 2 lakh and get bail. If I fail to do so, then they will slam me with 307 (attempt to murder) and I will get bail after 6 months.)

A smuggled cow caught by the police is being pulled out of the van in Sohna in Haryana. (Photo: Poonam Agarwal/The Quint)
Police ke liye business ban gaya hai? (Has it become a business for police?)
Police ke liye business aam hai. Chaar baar pakada gaya hu mein. (It is a business for police. They have caught me four times.) 
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How Cows are Smuggled: A Smuggler’s First-Hand Narration

Cow carcasses in Mewat. (Photo: Poonam Agarwal/The Quint)

Irfan Khan has been smuggling cows for the past 9 years from different states in the surrounds of Haryana to Mewat. He is a resident of Mewat who talks fearlessly about his cow-smuggling skills.

Kitna kama lete ho aap mahine mein? (How much do you earn in a month?)

Mahine mein 1.5 lakh. (Rs 1.5 lakh a month.)

Gai kahan se laatey hai? (Where do you get the cows from?)

Jis bhi sheher mein humein gai mil jaye. Tala kholte hai gadi ki, gai ke pair bandhte hain aur load karke le aate hain. Ek gadi mein 15 gai load karte hai. (Wherever we find a cow, we open the van. We tie their legs in the front and in the back, and put them in the van. In one van we can load around 15 cows.)

Kaunsi gadi hai? (Which van do you use?)

Tata 407.

A truck full of cow carcasses in Mewat. (Photo: Poonam Agarwal/The Quint)

Aage? (And then?)

Phir yaha le aate hai. (Then we bring the cows here.)

Kaha kaha se lekar aate ho gai? (Where do you get the cows from?)

Jaha bhi mil jaye utha lete hain...MP border tak....kahi bhi mil jaye - Haryana, Ghaziabad, Delhi. (Wherever we find a cow till MP border, like in Haryana, Ghaziabad, or Delhi, we pick them up in the van.)

Aap roz taskari karte hain? (Do you smuggle cows everyday?)

Roz na sahi har doosre-teesre din. (Every second or third day we smuggle cows.)

Roz kitni gai utha lete hain aap. (How many cows do you pick up in a day?)

Hum toh ek gadi chalate hai...Kamse kam 15 gai har raat. (In one night I pick up at least 15 cows.)

Cows smuggled in a van in Mewat. (Photo: Poonam Agarwal/The Quint)

Lakar yahi mewat mein rakhte hain? (Do you bring them to Mewat?)

Haan, yahi pahad mein le jate hai. (Yes, we take them to those hills.)

Aap gai khareedte bhi hain? (Do you purchase cows?)

Khareedte nahi hain. Sirf chori karte hain. Khareedenge toh kya bachayenge. (We don’t purchase cows, we steal them. If we purchased them, then we wouldn’t earn enough profit.)

Kitne mein bech dete ho gai? (How much does one cow sell for?)

Yaha piece ke hisaab se bechte hai, kisi ko 8 hazaar mein toh kisiko 9 hazaar mein. Sabka alag-alag rate hai. Poori gadi bik jati hai ek-dedh lakh mein. (Some cows are sold for 8k and some for 9k. All of them are sold at different rates. A van with around 15 cows is sold for 1 to 1.5 lakh.)

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Dear Chief Minister of Haryana

Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar. (Photo: PTI)

After spending so much manpower and state money in implementing this new law, do you believe it has been effective? Or has it just become another money-spinner for opportunistic police officers?

And aren’t there more important things to spend taxpayers’ money on than testing biryani in Mewat? Has the crime rate in Haryana dropped so low that you have extra resources to divert towards cow welfare?

In Part 2 of The Real Cow Boys of Haryana, The Quint will bring you details of how it’s not just Muslims, but also the Hindus of Haryana who are intimately involved in cow smuggling.

Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia
Cameraperson: Poonam Agarwal

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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