Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai)

Modi as CM hiked cow protection budget to ₹150cr


- Hiral Dave

AHMEDABAD: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has in recent days hit out at self-styled gau rakshaks for “running shops in the name of cow protection”.

Cow protectors, however, flourished in his home state Gujarat when he was the chief minister.

Between 2011 and 2014, the Gujarat government headed by Modi had disbursed ₹75 lakh in cash rewards to 1,394 vigilantes for catching illegal cattle transporte­rs and filing FIRS against them, the website of the government-run Gauseva and Gauchar Vikas Board (GGVB) states.

Almost an equal amount was given to 2,321 shelter providers for rescued cattle. To provide further motivation to cow protection volunteers, ₹3.75 lakh was given to the “top performers”, which included recipients of the biennial Best Cow Protector award.

In the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Modi also denounced the “pink revolution” (beef exports).

The GGVB was set up under the animal husbandry department in 1999, but remained defunct for almost a decade before Modi revived it in 2010. To make it proactive, his government introduced a slew of schemes. There was even a biennial Best Cow Protector award worth ₹25,000. The government increased the annual grant to the GGVB from ₹1.5 crore to ₹150 crore. The board’s website says its main objective is to “coordinate with groups involved in preventing slaughter of cow and progeny” and “effective implementa­tion of cow protection laws”.

In 2011, the state assembly passed the Gujarat Animal In 2010, state revived Gauseva and Gauchar Vikas Board, appointed chairman Between 2011 and 2014, ₹1.53 cr spent on cow protectors and cattle shelters To motivate gau rakshaks, ₹3.75 lakh released as reward to best performers.

2011, that made “transporta­tion, consumptio­n and sale of cow and progeny” illegal. Only the slaughter of cows, calves, bulls and bullocks were banned before this law.

Earlier, the penalty for violating cow protection laws included imprisonme­nt up to one year and fine of ₹1,000. The amended law provided jail terms up to seven years or fine of ₹50,000, or both.

“Of the ₹150 crore annual grant, ₹100 crore is spent on developing pastoral land. The remaining amount is utilised on various cattle welfare and protection­s schemes,” GGVB chairman Vallabh Kathiria said. The board’s revival coincided with the rise in the number of groups involved in cow protection. 50 groups are active under the larger Gau Rakshak Dal (GRD) .

Modi’s statement that 70-80% vigilantes are anti-social elements has irked the gau rakshaks.

“The statement of the Prime Minister is like an encouragem­ent to slaughterh­ouses. For the safety of genuine gau rakshaks, the government should start issuing identity cards,” says Mayur Thakkar, president of the state GRD.

Thakkar said groups affiliated with the GRD have filed roughly 100 cases annually over the past four years. Neha Patel, probably the lone woman gau rakshak in Gujarat, feels the PM’S statement is an exaggerati­on. “There are fake gau rakshaks too, but their percentage would be around 20 and

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