AGRA/VRINDAVAN: Not just people in cities, but even farmers in the vast rural hinterland are approaching local authorities seeking urgent solutions to the exploding bovine population that is destroying crops, causing traffic hazards and making life difficult for all.
On road crossings and busy streets, herds of stray cattle move around menacingly. The bulls have been charging at people and causing injuries almost every day.
The police say they are helpless. Municipal officials say there is no space for captured animals.
After the ban on cow slaughter by the Uttar Pradesh government, the number of animals on roads and public parks has increased alarmingly.
"Since no one is willing to feed the stray cows, these animals are eating all the garbage, including polythene bags and waste leather. When in agony, even the cows go berserk and start attacking anyone," says local resident Jugal Kishore.
This is a huge problem that government officials have failed in Braj area to address, along with the simian nuisance.
People are now demanding forced sterilisation of animals to keep their numbers in check.
In Mathura district, more than 100 private "gaushalas", or cow shelters, are already filled to capacity. In Radha Kund, a German lady is running one with more than 1,700 cows and bulls.
"Vrindavan is desperately in need of a cow hospital, but the gaushala that is currently most active in treating injured street cows has not been able to raise the funds for a hospital building and urgently needs more surgical supplies," said a Vrindavan official, who did not want to be named.
In the past fortnight, several people have been seriously injured and an elderly man died as a bull charged at people in a crowded market.
The lanes are full of stray animals -- dogs, monkeys and cows. Bulls have been attacking tourists even outside the Taj Mahal and Akbar's tomb at Sikandra.
"The Agra Municipal Corporation is supposed to capture these animals and house them in enclosures, but the officials are not at all serious," complained Vijay Nagar Colony resident Sudheir Gupta.
"Our colony is daily visited by dozens of cows and bulls. This is in addition to monkeys and dogs," he added.
The faithful feed bananas to the monkeys and green leaves and spinach bundles to the cows on the Yamuna Kinara road early in the morning. Later, these animals enter the busy marketplaces and start attacking people, said temple priest Nandan Shrotriya.
In Mathura and Vrindavan, the bovine menace has taken alarming proportions. Truckloads come from the rural hinterland to dump the unwanted animals.
Hundreds of bulls and cows also die or get injured in road accidents while moving in search of food.
The government had announced opening of gaushalas and cow sheds in a phased manner. Recently, the government again announced a plan to establish "gau-ashrams" for homeless cattle. But the crisis remains.