Hit by unemployment, Haryana youths overlook threat to life, police action to join cow vigilante groups for livelihood

Rohtak: Ironic though it may sound, the scourge of cow vigilantism in Haryana, has started generating employment, albeit with all its flaws. Notwithstanding its sixth position in the country when it comes to per capita income, the state has been reeling under a spell of unemployment forcing its young generation to latch onto jobs however risky they may be. Cow vigilante groups have hardly been part of good news but youths in dire need of jobs, choose to ignore its notorious fame.

Vijay Kumar is engaged with a cow vigilante organisation. Image courtesy Satpal Singh

Vijay Kumar is engaged with a cow vigilante organisation. Image courtesy Sat Singh

Farm distress often triggered by inclement climate and poor irrigation facilities has compelled youths like Vijay Kumar to look for alternative employment although it's cow vigilantism.

Not qualified enough to bag a job in the private sector, Kumar, 31, today makes a decent earning after associating himself with local cow vigilante organisation Gau Raksha Dal Haryana. A resident of Haryana’s Jind district, he also gave jobs to four other youths who are senior secondary passed and were looking for jobs to tide over the financial crisis that their families were going through.

“We are members of Gau Raksha Dal led by Acharya Yogender Arya. We went to him for a job upon which we were given training of making cow dung and urine products and sell it in the market,” Kumar said.

The logistical support has been provided by Gau Raksha Dal Haryana.

Kumar said that he is married and also has the responsibility of other family members on his shoulders and an amount of Rs 15,000 is enough to meet with his financial compulsions.

Deepak Arya, who is a Class 8 pass and had come all the way from Karnal, 100 km away, to Jind district to work with the Gau Raksha Dal.

“I am tasked to drive the campaign chariot of Acharya Yogender Arya, president of the Gau Raksha Dal. This chariot remains active on road during the night to chase cow smugglers and my job is to not miss the target,” Deepak said.

He said that he gets paid anything between Rs 10,000 to 15,000 per month for engaging in cow vigilantism for Gau Raksha Dal.

Similarly, Sonu Arya said that he also got a job in Gau Raksha Dal and he is tasked to prepare identity cards of cow vigilantes who are enrolled in the organisation.

“I am a senior secondary pass but members who work for this organisation are highly qualified up to BA, MA and MBA,” Arya said.

Youths making products out of cow dung and urine. Image courtesy Satpal Singh

Youths making products out of cow dung and urine. Image courtesy Sat Singh

Deepak Poonia, who is associated with Hisar's Gau Putr Sena organisation, said that his first choice is employment in the government sector.

"I have been filling up the forms of Haryana Police's Group-D posts (peon, gardener, carpenter) from last many years in the hope of getting one to live a decent life afterwards," he said.

However, Poonia claimed that he works voluntarily but other youths who work in such groups confessed that cow vigilantism groups take good care of them in fulfilling their monetary requirements.

"The choice is not in our hands to work for cow protection groups rather circumstances around prepare youths like me to work for them," said a youth in his early 30s. He has been working for cow protection for the last five years.

Acharya Yogendra Arya, chief of Haryana Gau Raksha Dal, said that his organisation has district units across the state.

“If you talk about employment, we have provided employment opportunities to about 3,000 youths who are well-qualified and work in institutions like schools that support our ideology on cows,” Arya said.

Explaining the module of the job, he said that there are two kinds of employees who are engaged. There are full-timers who are directly absorbed in the organisation and there is another group who work in educational institutions during the day and offer their services to the cow vigilante organisation at night. The jobs at the educational institutions are arranged by the Haryana Gau Raksha Dal on the basis of donations they receive from those academic establishments.

“In the day time, they do their job and at night, they patrol the sensitive spots with us on roads to check cow smuggling,” Arya said.

He said that those who do not want to go for night patrolling are given the task of treating injured cows on road. Arya said that since they do social service so in lieu of that they get support and help back from the society in form of donations and other help.

Gau Raksha Dal became a registered body in 2013 and claims to have 4,500 activists working for them across the state.

Sampat Singh, president of Gau Putr Sena, however, claimed that his organisation is surviving only on voluntary support from youths.

"Our organisation thrives on enrolment fees from volunteers who want to engage in cow protection and social activists who carry philanthropic activities," Sampat said.

He said that police cases on cow vigilante groups are common and it had occurred with him also but his organisation is working to save cows in letter and spirit.

"I cannot vouch for other cow protection groups," said Sampat, who is an MBA by qualification.

“We do understand the monetary aspect of youths engaged with the organisation but it is the duty of the government to make the job prospects viable,” he said.

Expressing shock on the claims of job employment, RTI activist Subhash Chander said that there are 1.5 million registered unemployed candidates in 15 districts out of 22 in the state.

Chander, who is also the editor of fortnightly newspaper India Post, said that youths are driving towards saffron organisation in pressing times and sans availability of opportunities in the government sector.

“No youth with a sane mind would want to associate with cow vigilante groups that contain the risk to life and police cases but the jobs provided by Gau Rakshak organisations are more like inducements to keep the activity going,” he said.

Bhani Ram Mangla, chairman of Haryana Gau Seva Ayog, said that the commission has started cow management programmes for educated youths.

“Working in gaushalas and related activities will soon become job opportunities for jobless youths belonging to rural areas on a bigger scale,” Mangla said.

He said that currently over 20,000 people get direct employment in 520 gaushalas in the state but there was nothing for youths with a technical background.

“From animal feed management to the setting up of highly modernised dairy, the training programme will train a batch of 50 participants and give them a six-month diploma at the end of the programme,” Mangla said.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Inderjit Singh observed that the youth driving towards cow vigilante organisations is a sad state of affairs.

“In Bhiwani district, a cow vigilante group in 2018 was trying to create pressure to register FIR against a veterinary doctor for not giving treatment to cows. Kisan Sabha had to run a parallel sit-in to neutralise that pressure building up on police,” he recalled.

The CPM leader said that if not all then certainly the most prominent organisations are thriving on donations under the patronisation of political parties who ultimately use the workforce for their goals. Singh blamed the government for not addressing unemployment issues leaving the youth with no choice but to opt for these pressure groups for livelihood.

Acute unemployment crisis

The severity of the unemployment crisis in Haryana can be gauged from the fact that for 18,000 posts of peon, gardener announced by the state government over 18 lakh youths appeared in the written test that took place in December last year. Candidates holding post-graduate degree were among job aspirants for Group-D jobs. According to RTI sought by Chander, the government provided only 627 jobs (Class III and IV) in 15 districts of the state.

Crimes by cow vigilante groups

Though the National Crime Records Bureau does not maintain any separate data on violence by gau rakshaks, but according to figures Haryana ranks second by the number of reported cases nationwide(15) since 2010.

Recently a 24-year-old Muslim youth was beaten for two hours in Rohtak in full public view over suspicion of cow smuggling.

In July last year, a 28-year-old Muslim man Akbar Khan was allegedly beaten to death in Rajasthan by an agitated mob on suspicion of cow smuggling. In August last year, Yameen Khokkhar of Titoli village in Rohtak district was thrashed by fellow villagers on the suspicion that he slaughtered a calf on Bakr-Eid. He had to flee the village with his family members to save his life. Police had registered a case against Yameen and the accused who thrashed him. On 2 August 2, 2018, in a case of mob lynching, one man was beaten to death in Haryana’s Palwal district on the suspicion of cattle theft.

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Updated Date: Jan 24, 2019 15:28:57 IST

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