SLR Rifles, Quick Response Teams: How Rajasthan Police Is Cracking Down On Cattle Trafficking

In Alwar district that hit national headlines after cow vigilantes killed Pehlu Khan on suspicion of trafficking cows earlier this year, the police have been directed to set up gau raksha check-posts in the district to control cattle trafficking.

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There are six checkposts to tackle cattle trafficking each in Alwar and Bharatpur districts

Jaipur:  There has been some concern in Rajasthan over the state's overdrive against cattle trafficking. Over the last fortnight, there have already been two shootouts between the police and men suspected to be trafficking cows for slaughter.

But it has been coming for some time.

In Alwar district that hit national headlines after cow vigilantes killed Pehlu Khan on suspicion of trafficking cows earlier this year, the police have been directed to set up gau raksha check-posts in the district to control cattle trafficking.

There are six such checkposts each in Alwar and Bharatpur districts. They are usually placed on roads that either lead to Haryana or the bordering districts of Bharatpur and Jaipur as these routes, according to the police, are frequented by those trafficking cows. 

Quick Response Teams or QRTs patrol the streets at night and give chase to vehicles they suspect may be carrying cows illegally. If the vehicle does not stop, the QRT chases them and informs the closest gau raksha check-post to puncture tyres by using a wooden plank with nails attached. These are laid across the road along with barricades to stop the vehicle suspected to be carrying cows. 

But apart from the police and QRT teams, another key support to the gau raksha check-posts are organisations like the "Gau Raksha Dal" of Rajasthan with branches in all cities. 

They have given their name, number and number of the local contact person to all the cow check-posts in Alwar district. They often give information to the police if they suspect a certain vehicle is trafficking cows. 

It is a fact endorsed by Ram Dayal Singh from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad's gau raksha dal and Deepak Modi, Alwar city president of the Bajrang Dal.

"We also keep an eye on areas where cows are in large numbers, we have a WhatsApp group that shares information and we inform the relevant check post that a car is moving filled with cows and there should be action. We can only follow the trucks, we can't do more than that - the police should do take action," says Deepak Modi. 

They say they would inform the police about the movement of cows earlier, but it is only now the police are playing an active role. 


The crackdown comes after several instances of violence by vigilante groups.

"If the police had orders like they have now they could have stopped cattle trafficking long back. I say, give the police a free hand, they will do good work," says Mr Singh.

In April this year, Pehlu Khan was beaten to death on the Delhi-Jaipur highway for transporting cows by vigilante groups. The police had named cow protection groups and the leader of a local gau shala for the attack, but they were later let off by the CB CID that investigated the case. 

In November, Ummar Khan was shot dead on the Alwar-Bharatpur border, again by alleged cow vigilantes. The police said he was smuggling cattle. 

Officers reject suggestions that the police were being trigger happy.
"Many times police have been injured in their attacks so police has to retaliate. They are firing on public roads so we retaliate. It is within our legal right and we will reply in courts," says Alwar Superintendent of Police Rahul Prakash. 

Most people who have found themselves on the wrong side of the vigilante groups, and the police are from the Meo community, something that they say has led to a sense of fear. Their population in Alwar alone is estimated to be over 3 lakh.
Like Saddam's family that own three cows and a buffalo but are now wary of buying more. 

"We are worried if we take our cows to the doctor also we may get attacked in the name of cow protection. If we buy cows, we ask them to be brought here. We don't go to collect them ourselves as we are scared to be on the road with them," says Saddam.

Jamshed Mohammad, a local sarpanch of the area, says: "The Meos have always kept cattle, in each house you will get two to three cows but cow vigilantes have a free run, they snatch cows and trouble people so we are scared."

It is something that they may have to live with. The administration says after the recent crackdown, the number of cases of cattle trafficking has come down by nearly half since 2015.

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