Gaushalas are torture houses: FIAPO report

Pashu Sandesh, 05th September 2018

Gaushalas (cow shelters) in India are torture houses say a recent The Federation of the Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) report. FIAPO undertook the task of evaluating the Gaushalas following the spate of lynching cases involving cows.

The Federation of the Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) said it had investigated living conditions and practices in 179 gaushalas across 17 states and found 154 (or 86 per cent) got bulls to impregnate cows and extracted milk during lactation periods.

The federation estimates there are about 5,000 gaushalas in India under various management regimes - some receive funds from governments, some privately run shelters are aimed at conserving native breeds, while others are maintained by animal welfare or religious organisations.

The investigation conducted through consultations with animal welfare scientists has found that many of the gaushalas surveyed ran as "dairies in disguise with rampant malpractices leading to severe suffering of gentle bovines", FIAPO said in a report released on Tuesday.

The report also said 145 (or 81 percent) of the 179 gaushalas surveyed were run through private bodies with no support from the government and about half of them lacked sustainable revenue models. Nearly half of the gaushalas also did not use byproducts such as cow dung.

“In many cases, the breeding in the gaushalas is justified on the grounds of conserving and promoting indigenous breeds,” Prashant Vishwanath, deputy director for campaigns at FIAPO, said. “Native varieties of bulls are sometimes used for breeding.” The cows and, over the years, the female calves, are used for milk while male calves are sold to slaughterhouses, he said.

The report said one gaushala in Calcutta housing 800 animals was a front for illegal slaughter of bovines. “Dry animals, male calves and bulls were brought illegally in trucks, trains and other vehicles… They were then deliberately starved in the gaushala and a fixed number of cattle were sent to be slaughtered every week,” the report said.

But such breeding efforts, FIAPO said, result in additional headcounts in premises already overcrowded and struggling for funds and pushes gaushalas into becoming dependent on selling milk to sustain themselves.

The investigation has also found that 66 percent of gaushalas separated calves from their mothers during lactation for milk. Three-fourths of the gaushalas tethered animals and half of them used ropes less than a meter long, which prevented cattle from even lifting their heads. It also found that one in four of the gaushalas surveyed tied the hind legs and tails of cows during milking.

“It has become clear from our investigation that rhetoric and reality continue to be porced,” Varda Mehrotra, FIAPO’s executive director, said in a media statement. “Most gaushalas provide little better service than dairies and employ similarly cruel practices.”

The investigation found that many gaushalas in the west, particularly in Ahmedabad, Sirohi, and Goregaon, did not milk cattle, but served exclusively as centers of rehabilitation of dry cows from dairies. In the north, most gaushalas promoted the use of cow-based products, including concoctions of urine.

Pashu Sandesh View: It seems the dynamics of economics drive the management of Gaushalas. States such as west bengal provide a thriving market for beef and hence the Goushalas serve a primary purpose of proving animals for slaughter under the guise of Cow protection. These shelters also enjoy proceedings from both state and private donors in the name of cow protection. Laws are strong but the implementation is poor and often elements from state are hand in glove with such illegal operations.