A glimmer of hope amid cow vigilantism

 Even at a time when polarisation between Hindus and Muslims was at its peak, the communally sensitive Alwar parliamentary constituency also witnessed a story of communal harmony and warmth.

Published: 05th May 2019 11:17 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th May 2019 11:43 AM   |  A+A-

ALWAR : Even at a time when polarisation between Hindus and Muslims was at its peak, the communally sensitive Alwar parliamentary constituency also witnessed a story of communal harmony and warmth. On October 3, 2017, 60-year-old dairy farmer Subba Meo suddenly lost his income.  51 of cows were taken away by police when he and his wife Saberi had taken the cattle out for grazing to a field near his Sahubas village. The police reportedly took the action on complaint of some youngsters from adjoining Kankra village who claimed the Subba was going to smuggle the cows. 

Sahubas is a small village comprising just 20-22 houses of Meo Muslims in Kishangarh in Alwar, where about six months ago before this incident dairy farmer Pehlu Khan was killed by cow vigilantes on suspicion of cow smuggling.  The cows were taken to Shri Krishna Gaushala in Bambora Ghati. “The cows were kept there for 17 days and I kept running to different offices---police, SDM, MLA--to get my cows released. We were hardly eating anything as selling milk is our only source of income,” Subba recalls. 

Just when the family was beginning to lose hope, help came from unexpected quarters. People from 13 nearby villages comprising not just Meos but also people of other communities such as Jats, SCs etc wrote a letter to the state authorities batting for Subba’s innocence and seeking release of his cows. Saberi’s eyes lit up when she recalls how nearby villages of Tarwala, Mahaund  and even Kakra along with many other villages gave a written note to SDM of Kishangarh in support of her husband. 

While Subba is thankful to people of nearby villages, he says the fear is still there. “Cow vigilantes often threaten us of taking our cows away. Just two days ago, some Jats beat up my sons calling them cattle smugglers. We have been lucky quite a few times now. I just hope luck remains on our side always.”

40-year-old Rafique, however, adds that the situation has improved with the Congress government coming to power in the state. “Cow vigilantes had a free run in BJP’s time. They used to roam in police vehicles. That has stopped.” 

When asked about the issues on the basis of which they will vote in upcoming elections, Subba and his family, which includes five daughters, says that they would want primary schools and medical facilities in the village. “We want schools, hospitals too but priority would be our safety. We will not vote for BJP,” says 74-year-old Sarsamal, Subba’s uncle.

The house of dairy farmer Rakbar Khan in Haryana’s Kolgaon village has transformed into a pucca house because of the public support that poured in following Khan’s lynching.  The tragedy for the family didn’t end with Rakbar’s brutal murder. Rakbar’s wife Asmeena met with a terrible accident and is now comatose.

The education of four children has been sponsored by an organisation which has sent them to Aligarh. The responsibility of running the house and taking care of her grandparents have fallen upon the delicate shoulders of the eldest, 14-year-old daughter Sahila. She says she wants to study but she says she can’t abandon her family. She shivers when she thinks about the night when her father was murdered. “I just hope no one is subjected to what my family went through. We are scarred for life,” says Sahila.

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