BHUBANESWAR: Kabita Bhoi and her husband Premananda have not slept for the last three days. A landless couple of Mahukhanda village, on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, they raised livestock to maintain their family of nine. But, thieves dealt a death blow to their livelihood by stealing 25 of their adult goats on Saturday night. All they left behind are five baby goats.
“We had purchased the goats two years back by paying Rs 6,000 for each with a hope that livestock rearing would bring us good returns. But there is nothing left now,” she said.
With the loss of the goats, their dream of constructing a pucca one-room house has also been shattered.
“We had decided to sell off a few goats to construct an additional room near the verandah of our house that we share with two sons, their wives and three grandchildren,” Kabita added.
With little space in the ramshackle dwelling, the couple sleeps on the verandah near which they had set up a goat shed. But on Saturday night when the thieves struck, neither Kabita nor Premananda could hear the goats bleating.
“We woke up to find some tapes in front of our house and five baby goats in a state of dizziness. The thieves might have sprayed something to sedate the animals as we did not hear any noise when they were taken away,” said Kabita.
The same day at neighbouring Nua Sahi village, miscreants also stole seven goats belonging to Kanhu Charan Rout.
Now, he has only four baby goats left. Kanhu, too, found tapes in his goat shed and suspects that the thieves may have taped the mouths of the goats while stealing them.
“The miscreants had stolen four of my goats in August last year and I had lodged a police complaint. However, as there was no action by the police then, I did not lodge a complaint this time,” he said.
Goat theft in Mahukhanda and Nua Sahi under Balipatna police limits has broken the economic backbone of hapless villages who are mostly dependent on livestock. Police, on the other hand, are yet to take such incidents seriously.
A local social activist Karunakar Parida said most of the victims do not have any agricultural land and are solely dependent on their livestock.
“Such incidents have been occurring since the last three years in villages like Nua Sahi, Mahukhanda, Adaspur and Nimapada, but neither the police nor the administration has bothered,’’ he alleged.
Unlike Rout who did not have funds to secure the goat shed with iron grills and locks, his neighbour Maheswar Pradhan spent Rs 12,000 to install an iron gate at his livestock shed after seven of his goats were stolen some days back.
“I have 10 goats left and each can be sold between Rs 6,000 and Rs 12,000. Fearful of losing them with thief running riot in the area, I decided to secure the shed by installing a gate,” he said. Pradhan had also lodged a complaint with Balianta police.
From what locals say, the miscreants conduct a recce of the areas before committing the crime. They mostly target the houses which are close to the main roads. Although cases have been registered in the thefts, no arrests have been made so far.
The thieves target goats as they can earn easy money by selling them off to butchers and traders. Say, for five goats they can easily get Rs 50,000-60,000.
Being less noticeable and such cases largely ignored by police, the thieves are having a free run. The fact that entire families are ruined by the loss is inconsequential.
“Earlier, a gang involved in a similar offence was busted in Niali. Though it is challenging to trace the miscreants involved in the thefts as there are no CCTVs in these areas but all efforts are being made to nab them,” said a police officer.