Cattle smuggling in J&K
SMUGGLING of cattle in cluding milching animals, sheep and goats for different purposes in Jammu and Kashmir appears to have assumed alarming proportions particularly after the unprecedented floods in whole of the state in September-2014 year. The trafficking of cattle after the floods, in which over one lakh cattle perished, has increased in view of the high demand of the farming fraternity for milching cows in particular because these cattle drive the economies of rural households. The demand for meat from goat and sheep apart from the poultry birds is also high as usual because of high consumption of mutton and its by-products in whole of J&K. But there has been a lot of skepticism over smuggling of cattle for the purpose of slaughter which may be misplaced for various reasons but this unscrupulous trade brings lot of quick money for the operators in this trade. It has been found that there are frequent reports of cattle smuggling by the smugglers everyday in one part of the other in J&K when they are nabbed by the police or other agencies while transporting the bovine animals to various parts of hilly belt or Kashmir valley. There has been a lot of hue and cry over transportation of the milch cows and other animals and under the pressure of some rightwing groups, transportation of various animals is banned by the district administration without permission from the concerned district magistrates. In the process, some genuine people are also caught up red-tape wrangles of the bureaucracy and become victims of the law enforcing agencies for no fault of theirs. Apart from this, it is a known fact that milch animals are imported on annual basis into J&K because of high casualty rate of these animals during winters in different parts of the state. Even before the menace of cattle smuggling emerged on the scene, farmers in J&K have been bringing such animals from the neighbouring states of North India for centuries to meet their requirements. Acute corruption in J&K has unfortunately opened a vista for the government agencies in indulge into malpractices instead of regulating the import of animals from outside the state.
Under these circumstances, a large number of cattle smugglers have formed their networks for carrying on their illicit trade with active connivance of the law enforcing agencies, who have a share in the booty of the smugglers. A very senior officer of the police carried out a detailed investigation into this trade 30 years back and had eyeopening findings about his own department and the police officials involved in cattle smugglers and how the illicit trade was being patronized. On the basis of that report and findings some stern steps were initiated on the ground to check this menace besides simultaneously taking action against the police officials involved in this illicit trade. The findings of the report also pointed out that there has to be a will on the part of the police department to curb this menace and allow the genuine nomads and farmers to be spared of the harassment meted out to them by the police on one pretext or the other. In the process, it has been pointed out again and again that along with police other government agencies should become regulatory bodies so that this menace is curbed to a large extent. Only recently, one district magistrate suggested that the cattle smugglers should be detained under draconian law Public Safety Act (PSA) to overcome the menace of cattle smuggling. It is sad state of affairs PSA, which has been considered to an unacceptable option for detaining citizens in J&K and elsewhere in India is still being used by the powers that be against its own citizens on selective basis particularly those considered to be political opponents. It is not the case in J&K only, even in rest of India, political activists are detained under a similar law NSA and they continue to remain behind bars for no fault of theirs. Resorting to such use of PSA also exposes the failure of the law enforcing agencies to take action against cattle smugglers under existing other laws wherein the accused can booked and punished for life. It also exposes the mindset of those ruling the roost in the corridors of power to abuse the authority they are vested with instead of making an attempt to prepare water tight cases for such criminal activities.