First published at hindupost.in , I thank Hindupost for conducting this interview along with me and helping with the final editing.
Ms. Bharti Arora, IPS (Haryana Cadre) is DIG – Police Welfare & Training, Principal & Director – Sports School Rai (Sonipat), and she also has the additional charge as Presiding Officer – Haryana Cow Protection Task Force (HCPTF). She is on the rank of IGP.
Bharti Arora ji has been in news at different times, and lastly when she was appointed as the Head of Haryana Cow Protection Task Force. She has extensive experience behind her as a senior police official. She is personally sensitive to the issue of violence against Cows. We interview her on various related issues –
Below is the English transcript of the audio interview :
Namaskar mam, thank you for speaking to Hindupost and thank you for giving us time. Mam, we will start with the most important issue that happened last month.. of beef biryani in Mewat (Haryana). There have been no concrete reports on the Mewat beef biryani issue and action taken thereafter. Is the government and police dealing strictly with the beef biryani culprits? There is no news, we would like to know something about it…
Bharti ji – See the government has passed an act – Gauvansh Samvardhan & Sanrakshan Act, which makes slaughtering cows illegal. Transporting cows for slaughter is also illegal. Selling cow meat , possessing it and transporting it is also illegal. So wherever there’s a complaint against any of these, police takes action. Complaint gets registered and action is taken.
Mam this particular case, many news reports came that government embarrassingly took the samples and now nothing has come in the reports, so that’s why they are sitting on it…
Bharti ji – See the samples were collected… let me clarify one thing, it is not that a general order was issued that all the biryani of the state, or all restaurants will be checked, nothing like that. On the basis of a complaint.. if there’s a complaint that somewhere cow meat or its products / by-products are being sold, then action would be taken. In this case also, there was a specific complaint and on the basis of this specific complaint, 7 samples were collected and they were sent for testing, but I have not yet received the reports.
After this whole issue, there were lot of reports in mainstream media. There were a couple of reports on you also, as Head of the Haryana Cow Protection Task Force. And in one of the reports I had read, written from Mewat residents / briyani sellers’ points of view, it was mentioned ‘Ek lady officer ne sakhti kar rakhi hai’ (A lady officer has enforced strictness). Do you think media is inciting people by writing like this..for flouting the law? …
Bharti ji – Yes definitely, media has unnecessarily created a hype, it was not required. Like any other act, any other law, there are so many laws, if there’s violation of a law, the police is supposed to take action. Selling beef is an offense, and if there’s a complaint, and police springs into action and takes samples or does whatever legally, then what was the need to create such a hype about it? Only for yellow journalism it was done, there was no need to create such a hype.
Right mam, & one of the most significant statements made by you after this whole episode was ‘money from cow smuggling is being used in terrorism‘, and that it is an organised crime, even a cross-border racket. Mam, would you like to elaborate on this…
Bharti ji – It is an organized crime. It is spread over almost the entire country, so many states like Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa etc… they export cows, cows are transported from these states, and through West Bengal they enter Bangladesh . A huge amount is involved, 15000 crores per annum is one estimate, that is the amount which is involved. Because the cost of beef here is 30 to 50 rupees / kg, but when it reaches abroad.. reaches Dubai, it is anything from 200 to 600 rupees / kg. So the amount involved is very large.
And it doesn’t take much, you have to steal some cows from here, stuff them in a truck and export them. The border, Bangladesh border is very porous, it is very easy to transport these cows.
But mam, that the money is involved in terrorism..
Bharti ji – In 2007 – 2008, the UP police and West Bengal police had arrested some terrorists who were responsible for bomb blasts in our country. In their confession, it had come, in that report… that they were also involved in cow smuggling.
Mam, the scale of this smuggling is so huge, from one corner of the country to another, Bangladesh.. Dubai.. Don’t you think that it is not possible to have such a massive scale of smuggling without involvement of certain administrative people, or border force..How is it possible that such a huge racket is just going on and on…
Bharti ji – There are certain kingpins of course, there are some influential kingpins, people who are organizing this crime. But i cannot comment on how far the administrative side is involved. I do not know.
Mam, is there a cross-country initiative to curb this trade, seeing how dangerous it is, within the states itself…..
Bharti ji – There are efforts, in fact some writs are pending in the Supreme Court also. On the directions of the Supreme Court, the Border Management in the Home Ministry, they have been organizing meetings with some of the states and trying to find out a solution to curb this trade.
Mam, you are heading the Cow Protection Task Force in Haryana now. On an average, how many cases would you say that police counters of cow smuggling, trafficking or slaughter in a month, say approximate figures. Because there have been instances where the police has been shot at..
Bharti ji – Very frequently, very often, almost every second day there’s a case in Haryana.
Mam, we have extensively covered the smuggling that has happened in Amravati, we have some sources there. There was a case where a cow smuggler had rammed about 12 cars, ran about with cows, one car had a family and the entire family was crushed. He didn’t stop for about 30 kms and police had to chase him. When they finally caught him, it was found that 30 or 40 cows were stuffed in one container cruelly. In another case in same Maharashtra, the cows were coming from MP, and there were 70 cows dead.. when the truck was approached because they were so cruelly tied and stuffed.
So we want to know mam, now that you are saying that once in two days you come across a case like this, are you seeking the cooperation of high profile international animal rights NGOs? Is the government tying-up with NGOs to curb this? Because this is also a case of animal cruelty, the way they are stuffed..
Bharti ji – It is a case of animal cruelty, but the Animal cruelty Act is a very weak act. The punishment is nothing, just 50 rs fine, it is nothing. The act which Haryana has, Gauvansh Samvardhan & Sanrakshan Act is a stringent act. The punishment is upto 10 years. About seeking the help of NGOs, not much. This is basically a police job…
Mam, if you would know that a lot of Hindu festivals which include animals, like temple elephants or Jallikattu in south Bharat in which bulls fight, have been targeted by NGOS in the name of animal protection in the Supreme Court. Even Diwali mam, they say don’t burst crackers because it scares animals. These kind of NGOs like PETA & others, who are very high profile, they seem to very silent on the matter of cow trafficking. Wouldn’t you suggest that the government should push these NGOs which are otherwise very active on rest of the issues regarding animal cruelty…
Bharti ji – That’s a good point actually, I think we should….
May be you can suggest this in the next meeting as the voice of citizens….
Bharti ji – I can take it up myself.
Hindupost – Sure mam, please. Regarding the figures, mam you mentioned a case every second day. So how many casualties has the police force suffered in trying to tackle these smugglers…
Bharti ji – Once in a while there are, there are shoot outs once in a while..
It looks like increasingly these people are armed, they even have advanced people on motorcycles who kind of go ahead of the..
Bharti ji – There will be a car that would recce, then there’l be somebody following up, then the main vehicle which is carrying the things..So it is very well organized..
And even many volunteers have been murdered, may be not when they are trying to stop the trucks but later on, like Arun Mahaur in Agra, Prashant Pujari in Karnataka.. So we keep hearing about the people who are just volunteers, who are just tipping off the police about these rackets, are ultimately tracked and after multiple complaints are just eliminated kind of…
Bharti ji – This happened in Gurgaon 2 years back. A person from Gurgaon was trying to chase this vehicle and was shot. He died on the spot, Vikrant Yadav. Vikrant was shot. Then just few days back in Yamunanagar, there was a shoot out. These people were trying to follow a vehicle privately. There was firing from both the sides. This has been happening in Rewari also, and in karnal & Kurukshetra also instances have taken place.
But mam, these reports do not come unfortunately in media (mainstream media)..
Bharti ji – Yes, unfortunately, there have been only ‘Vigilantes’ there…
Yes… On free gauchar bhoomi, we had interviewed couple of gau rakshaks of VHP & other institutions from UP & other states, where smuggling is more rampant, they had said that the gauchar bhoomi which is supposed to be free in every village is being heavily encroached upon illegally. We had asked this question from Bhaniram ji also, and he said that we are trying to collect this information and then trying to lease out this bhoomi for making into cow sanctuaries.. has this started happening mam? What are the other solutions? Is it possible to actually get it cleared from encroachments? Once the stray cows are off the streets and in gaushalas….
Bharti ji – If there’s a will, it is always possible. Even there are directions from the Supreme Court. Have u seen that case – Gauri Maulekhi vs. Union of India… Please go through it . It has 20 points that Supreme Court has recommended, what all should be done to protect this animal. One of the points is this, what you have told me, it should be utilized exclusively for cows.. its a 2015 case.
You are handling three responsibilities mam. Have you faced any threats? Also, we came to know that you yourself are a cow lover and you rear them. Please tell us more, it will an inspiration for us..
Bharti ji – Personally, I have not faced any threats. Nobody has dared to threaten me (laughs). It is a very interesting job. Yes, I have 3 charges. I am IG – Police Welfare & Training, Director & Principal of Rai School of Sports, and In-charge of Cow Protection Task Force. Yes, there are a lot of challenges. The scale at which this is happening is much wider and we are not able to catch the culprits, the real culprits. We need to work really more and harder. So many cows are being smuggled to UP everyday, so many cows are being slaughtered in Mewat everyday. We really need to work hard and need to do lot more to stop cow slaughter. That is the challenge. We are short of force, manpower, we need more manpower. Plus this is a new act and police also needs to be educated on the provisions of this new act..
Mam, media also needs to create the right awareness in people….
Bharti ji – Yes, there is a lot of confusion and media is only trying to create hype unnecessarily. They don’t record the things the way they are..
Why is the government not able to counter the media effectively on the issue of cow?
Bharti ji – I can’t comment on that, but if you try to save dogs you are an animal lover, but if you try to save cows, then you are a Hinduwadi & I don’t know what all….
Mam, one more question regarding the cow protection volunteers. Recently there was a news that Haryana government is planning to give ID cards to gau rakshaks. Don’t you think that this database that will be formed will be misused if the government changes…
Bharti ji – Otherwise also they are known, the people who are working actively. Its not something that they are doing something discreetly.
The other thing is, this is something which is very dear to a lot of people in rural areas. So if somebody is trying to harm a cow which is may be that person’s own cow or somebody’s known to him, then people will try to prevent it at that point of time. So how will these licensed / official volunteers be different? Will they be given any additional powers?
Bharti ji – No, no powers at all. Another very important issue is law and order issue. One thing, why we need to protect cows is, because the act says so, it is law of the land. The other thing is law & order, this issue is close to the hearts of people, it is a very emotional issue. People really feel for it and if public catches a truck which is carrying cow meat or cows, then people become very hostile and they create law & order issues. There have been incidents like this in Rewari & Gurgaon where they blocked roads and set vehicles on fire, because they think that – police is involved in this, police is not doing anything, government is not doing anything.
So if we start working proactively for this, we get a lot of goodwill from people. I have experimented this in Rewari when I was SSP Rewari. We did this experiment, that’s why I can say this with so much of conviction. Rewari is one place from where lot of cows are smuggled to Mewat. Cows from Rajasthan, Gujarat and other parts of Haryana travel through Rewari to go to Mewat. So we used to catch a lot of cows there, a lot of encounters with smugglers, lot of vehicles were caught. There was no space to keep those cows because there was no gaushala at Rewari. Sowhat police did, we made our own gaushala with the help of public. It became a movement. Every second day we used to catch cows, there were 300 cows in just 2 months!
Then we roped in lot of people for feeding and all… Police alone could not do everything. Police and public together worked and a lot of goodwill was generated. One day what happened, a truck carrying cow meat overturned and all the beef was on the road. You can imagine how volatile the situation was, people from both sides of the highway started gathering, they could have done anything in anger, people don’t tolerate these things. But because we had such rapport with the people, we were able to control the situation immediately , nothing happened!
Mam, in your experience….is cow protection a genuine movement? Because there is a lot of news reported in media that this is an extortion racket….
Bharti ji – Actually, there are some people who are into extortion as well. As you see, anywhere, there are good people, there are bad people also, corruption is everywhere. Even in police department, there are honest police officers, there are corrupt police officers also. There are many genuine volunteers who do this as they feel for it. But there are some miscreants, anti social elements who are into corruption, that is also true, so we need to filter the wrong ones. So this process of issuing ID cards will help in identifying the right ones.
Thank you so much mam.