As you move from Lucknow towards eastern UP you can see herds of stray cattle roaming in the fields and on the roads which have become a menace to the farmers and people who are travelling on the road.
On the outskirts of Barabanki which goes to the polls in the fifth phase, Ram Sumer Verma is sitting just outside his fields as wheat harvesting is to be done about a month. He is wary of the stray cattle who are destroying the crops and he has also put up barbed wire. In Awadhi he says, “kauno fayda Nahi hai kheti se agar inse bachi to kuch bachiye (farming is not profitable work and stray animals have added to the worries of the farmers). He is not revealing whom he has decided to vote for but hopes that the new government will do something.
Not only cattle, people are also battling wid boars and Neelgais in the area. In Balrampur Shrawasti and Bahraich and Dumariaganj, where the fields are in the periphery of the forests, the boars and the Neelgai mainly attack the fields during night. In the fifth and sixth phase of the elections the issue of cattle and wild boars is resonating in the polls.
Both of them destroy crops as well as the economy of the villages. Though the government claims that it has established Gaushalas in the villages but the menace has not ended.
Not only are the farmers suffering but many accidents also occur due to these animals. A 58-year-old farmer was attacked and killed by a stray bull while he was protecting his crops on a rented field in Uttar Pradesh’s Etah district in the first week of February.
Talking about the incident, Lalit Kumar, a local resident, said: “The local people here are angry at the increasing cattle menace which has not only destroyed crops but has also harmed farmers.”
Politics has heated up in the state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a public meeting has assured that the government will open more shelters to protect the cows.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel had said that the Uttar Pradesh government played politics over the cows and left them unattended on the streets.
“The UP government has no account of the number of cows in the state. They are using the holy cow to play politics and have left them destitute,” said Baghel, who was campaigning in support of the Congress candidates in Prayagraj this week.
Cattle have become an election issue but many farmers residing within 20 to 30 km of forests are facing the menace of these wild animals which has not drawn much attention, but in the Terai region it is an issue. It is going to the polls in the next phases.