The cow has been a marker of the progress of human civilisation historically; it was only when humans began to become pastoralists, leaving a lifetime of hunting and gathering behind, and began domesticating animals and the cattle was the most salient amongst them. The cow, thereby, signified a momentous turn in human civilisation and history. In the 21st century now as instances of violence and hate against minorities abound across the country, instances of cow protection vigilantes abound greatly as once again cattle seems to be the focal point. In this scenario the news of communal harmony is seldom heard or celebrated. However, contrary to popular perception, citizens across India continue to commune with fraternity and brotherhood across caste and class.
Sabrang India tracks down incidents of harmony that have been recorded across India even as hate campaigns trailing electoral victories flourish across the length and breadth of the nation. These stories, ordinary, imbued with compassion and empathy provide a glimpse into not just the pluralist tradition but historical significance of India as a land that encompasses and nurtures multiplicity of traditions and faiths. Furthermore, these incidents don’t just serve as stories of inspiration and unrivalled compassion but as also efficient models to follow on the route to establishing constitutional values.
Gonda, Uttar Pradesh
A heart-warming and unique tradition has emerged in 2022 from the Gonda district of Uttar Pradesh where children, adults and everyone are participating in a community initiative that seeks to unite people across community lines. This initiative revolves around the establishment of a Roti Bank within a cow shelter in a small village, the Roti Bank has not only brought the community closer but also added a touch of compassion and unity to the lives of its residents. The brainchild behind this initiative is Mansur Ali, who is the Pradhan of the village, who took the step with unwavering support from the Gonda Sadar Tehsildar, Rajiv Mohan Saxena. Together, they seem to have ignited a spirit of compassion, empathy and fraternity transcending faith that they have initiated particularly through the children.
The Roti Bank, situated in Rudragarh Nausi village of Gonda Sadar, operates on a simple idea where members of the Roti Bank team collect Roti, a traditional Indian bread, from households every day, which is then lovingly served to the cows residing in the village’s cow shelter. This initiative was hailed as a remarkable example of communal harmony and care for the bovine residents of the village.
Well, what of the reactions of the villagers? One would presume, in this environment of enforced hatred, that the villagers would be opposed to this initiative by a Muslim leader? However, expectations go contrary to reality, for the residents of the village have wholeheartedly embraced this cause and are considering it an act of reverence and kindness. The Roti Bank team, including the Tehsildar, Rajiv Mohan Saxena, aim to expand this heart-warming initiative to other cow shelters within their jurisdiction.
What seems to be the case is that the Tehsildar in this instance seems to recognise the potent necessity and relevance of such a unifying and harmonious activity for the villagers. For, in the words of the Tehsildar, this endeavour was inspired by the age-old practice of mothers making Roti for cows, which is a gesture of deep respect for these gentle animals. By encouraging the village Pradhan to pursue this vision, the village of Rudragarh Nausi has set a shining example of collective responsibility towards their four-legged companions.
There are a total of 22 cow shelters within their jurisdiction, and they intend to replicate this beautiful tradition in more of them. The current cow shelter in Rudragarh Nausi is home to approximately 400 cows, and even with existing provisions for food and water, the addition of Roti to their diet is a testament to the villagers’ care and concern for these animals. As the Roti Bank concept gains acceptance and success, it has the potential to bring about a wave of community engagement across Gonda district and beyond.
Hamirpur, Uttar Pradesh
In another display of communal harmony, a heart-warming story emerged from 2019 in the Maudaha area of Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh, where a group of dedicated Muslim youth embarked on a mission to rescue a cow named Anna, according to Amar Ujala. The cow had found herself in a terrible situation after falling into a drain along the main road. These young men successfully rescued Anna. These youth did the task of saving the cow fear of cow vigilantes attacking Muslims.
Furthermore, not content with just the rescue, these young individuals went above and beyond to ensure the well-being of the cow. The animal was in a weakened and malnourished state, recognising this they promptly sought medical assistance for it and called a veterinarian from the local animal hospital to provide treatment. There onwards, they diligently cared for Anna, feeding her twice a day and making sure she had access to water. What is even astounding is that they didn’t stop just at rescue and medical attention. The young men united and submitted a memorandum to the local Tehsildar with a heartfelt request for Anna to be relocated to a cow shelter where she could receive the proper treatment and care she deserved.
The incident began when Anna, the cow, fell into the drain on the main road in Husainganj, a local neighbourhood. The rescue operation was executed by Mohammad Danish, Jumman, Ahmed, Bhura, Mejar, Gulam Mohammad, Imran, Ajmat Guru, Inayat Khan, and Muin, who collectively formed the guardian angels for Anna. Mohammad Danish, in particular, took it upon himself to provide continuous care for the ailing cow, highlighting the seriousness of her condition.
After their tireless efforts and devotion to Anna’s well-being, the local police were informed of the cows no immediate action was taken. Frustrated but undeterred, the cow’s caregivers took the initiative to call the animal hospital for help. Pharmacists Rajesh Pal and Hemant Panchal were swift in responding to the distress call, providing medical attention to Anna twice.
Rajesh Pal, the pharmacist, shed light on Anna’s medical condition, revealing that the cow suffered from weak eyesight and a skin disease, both of which were diligently addressed through their treatments. The injuries she sustained from the fall into the drain only added to her suffering.
The heartening gesture of unity extended to local cow shelters as well, as Ramkaran Gupta, who operates the Patanjali Gaushala on the national highway, expressed his willingness to provide care for Anna and stated that they were more than willing to keep her and provide the necessary treatment at their gaushala.
In response to this incident, Tehsildar Ramanuj Shukla acknowledged the involvement of the Husainganj community members and leaders from the Aam Aadmi Party, who had taken the initiative to file a complaint regarding Anna’s condition.
Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
Following the demise of hundreds of cows, the government has handed over the management of the gaushala in Bairsia, Bhopal, to the district panchayat. To facilitate this, a substantial quantity of fodder was required, not only for the affected gaushala but also for other gaushala in Bairsia facing similar challenges. This was a huge problem – however, it was only with the intervention of community members, many of whom were Muslims, that this problem was solved, according to Punjab Kesari.
Addressing the fodder shortage issue, the SDM Aditya Jain, along with Tehsildar Alok Pare and district CEO Dilip Jain, convened a meeting with fodder traders in Lalaria village on Tuesday and during the meeting, the SDM highlighted the pressing need for fodder in sustaining the gaushala. In a commendable display of unity, all fodder traders unanimously pledged to contribute 800 quintals of fodder, with distribution scheduled to commence on Wednesday. It was a diverse group of contributors, which included many members of the Muslim community, some of whose names are as follows – Bablu Bhai, Bhura Bhai, Lalla Bhai, Khalil Bhai, Irshad Bhai, Ikka Seth, Arif Bhai, Anis Bhai, Hanif Bhai, Jamna Prasad, Pappu Bhai Janpad, Abarar Bhai, and Jabir Khan.
Lalaria village, situated in Bhopal district, plays a pivotal role in the national fodder trade, boasting the highest number of trucks dedicated to this purpose. It’s worth mentioning that the majority of fodder traders in Lalaria belong to the Muslim community, according to the report. Thus, through this community based effort we can see how collective initiative and coming together in solidarity during times of crisis with actionable objectives can have the possibility to transcend religious boundaries.
These inspiring act of kindness takes on a deeper significance when considering the broader context of India’s national discourse. In a country where cow-related issues often become a fiery topic of political debate and violence, these people actively chose unity and compassion over division.