MUMBAI: Announcement of a Padma Shri for Shabbir Sayyad, 65, a gau sevak from Beed, has made hardly any difference to the lives of the family of 13 that has been looking after cows for the last 50 years.
For illiterate Shabbir Sayyad of Dahivandi Village, the award only means his photographs being published in newspapers.
Shabbir, his wife, two sons, daughters-in-law, and their children, continue to live in a two-room tin-shed house. Recalling how it all began Shabbir said, “My father gave me two cows before he died and asked me to take care of them. I was just 10 then.”
Now, Shabbir and his family take care of 100-odd cows. They grow fodder on their own grassland and food for themselves on another plot.
“We don’t know why our grandfather decided to switch from killing cows to protecting them. But, no member of our family has killed cattle in last three generations,” said Shabbir’s son Yusu.
The family, that belongs to the butcher community has been saving cows from slaughterhouses and doesn’t milk the cows or eat beef. They only eke out a living by selling organic manure, oxen to farmers.
However, that is never sufficient and this year the area is facing a drought. Worried about the scarcity of fodder, Shabbir has moved an application for a fodder camp hoping that the Padma Shri will help speed up things. That is the only benefit from the award his family expects.