Farmers lock 250 stray cows in school, students go home

By Times Of India on 30 Aug 2017 | read
SHAHJAHANPUR: Farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri, who say they have been facing some real tough times due to the menace of stray cattle, caught hold of and locked 250 of the animals in a primary school as they demanded a shelter house for the bovines. As there was no place for students to study, they all returned home. The kids have no idea when the school will be cleared of the animals. Neither do the teachers.

On their part, some of the farmers TOI spoke to on Tuesday said that there are thousands of stray cattle in the district that are damaging crops but the district administration has not taken any action in the matter. This was the fourth such incident reported from the district, where peeved farmers have locked up stray cattle in school compounds.

Basic education officer Budhpriya Singh said, "The primary school in Sakethu village of Nakha block was taken over by angry villagers and they locked stray cattle inside the school premises. The students had to go back to their house." The official hoped the deadlock will end soon and the school will reopen.

Teachers of the primary school were shocked when they spotted over a hundred villagers approaching the school with around 250 stray cattle. The villagers used bamboos to create a temporary shelter for the cattle in the school premises. Since the teachers were outnumbered and many of the parents they reached out to sided with the farmers, they gave up the fight and reported the matter to higher authorities in the education department.

Nakha police post in-charge and senior officials of the education department later visited the village and tried to calm down the protesters. However, the villagers remained adamant and said that the school will remain closed unless the government makes arrangement for a shelter to house the stray cattle.

Anirudh Kumar, a farmer, said, "Population of stray cattle has increased drastically since slaughterhouses shut down earlier. It was a good move to save the cows; however, no steps have been taken to provide shelter to these stray cattle. They enter our fields and destroy our crops. We can't even use barbed wire fencing as gau rakshaks threaten us with FIRs if we do that."

Vinod Gupta, a local resident, added, "Villagers in Isanagar and Dhaurahra areas had also protested in a similar manner a fortnight ago. The stray cattle menace is affecting everyone's life in the district. From railway station to local markets, stray cattle are everywhere and the district administration has not done anything so far."

Kheri district magistrate Akashdeep said, "Stray cattle is a serious issue in our district and we are in talks with local NGOs and other groups to develop a few shelter houses. We will try and provide land and shelter houses would be built with the support of local residents and NGOs. We have also informed the state government about the issue."