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To stop animal slaughter during Bakrid, Vadodara group buys goats and sheep

Author: Aditi Raja
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: June 2, 2019
URL:      https://indianexpress.com/article/india/to-stop-animal-slaughter-during-bakrid-vadodara-group-buys-goats-5761178/lite/?__twitter_impression=true

The group has purchased close to 100 sheep and goats from an animal mandi in Surat as of now, and plans to buy livestock from other places, too.

A group of “animal rights activists” in Gujarat’s Vadodara has decided to purchase all goats and sheep from animal markets in the state in order to “rescue them from being slaughtered during Bakrid”. The group, which calls itself “Sarvadharm Jeevdaya Samiti”, had earlier launched a campaign to ban export of goats and sheep to the Middle East.

“We are not against any religion nor is this campaign against any religion. We strive to increase awareness about animal rights and want to get more people voluntarily join our cause. We are animal lovers who are appalled by the inhuman treatment meted out to these silent creatures,” said Rajeev Shah, secretary of Shri Vadodara Panjrapole, which manages two animal shelters in the city.

According to Shah, who is also an honorary member of All India Animal Welfare Board, the group has purchased close to 100 sheep and goats from an animal mandi in Surat as of now, and plans to buy livestock from other places, too.

“Since Bakrid is still away, we were able to purchase goats at a very low cost. We got 94 goats for about Rs 1.5 lakh. As Bakrid will draw closer, one goat will cost about Rs 15,000-20,000. At the moment, the traders are willing to sell at a lower cost.”

The group’s next halt will be the weekly animal market at Goghamba in Panchmahal district.

“From Goghamba, we will go to other parts of Gujarat where there is some distress among farmers due to drought-like situation which is prompting them to sell their animals for slaughter even through illegal channels. We have already made it clear that our panjrapole in Vadodara has enough space and funds. We can take in as many animals as needed to save them from being slaughtered… We have a new facility in Darjipura, where we are sheltering all the rescued goats. Right now, we are purchasing directly from the breeders. Once the middlemen buy these goats for commercial sale during Bakrid, the prices will soar,” Shah added.

The group, which had launched a signature campaign in the city earlier this month to urge the BJP government in the state to ban export of goats to the Middle East, said, “We have received support from our patrons to the extent that one of them issued a cheque of Rs 15 lakh to us and said we must use the money to buy as many goats as we can to stop the mindless slaughter during Bakrid.”

When asked if buying goats seem like the best option to curb slaughter, Shah said, “We are trying our best. At least we will be able to save as many as we can if not all.”

“We are a group mostly comprising of Jain trusts. There are others also. There is a principle in Jainism that if you kill one living being, it is like killing many. And the corollary — if we save even one, we earn blessings. We are going by this principle,” said Rajendra Shah, Director, Animal Welfare Board, Government of Gujarat. He is also an honorary secretary of Jeevdaya group in Rajkot, which had petitioned the state government to ban export of livestock from Gujarat ports to the Middle East for slaughtering. His organisation was also behind the order to close down animal haats three years ago.

Muslim community leaders said that while animal activists have always been vocal about their opposition to Bakri Eid, the move to purchase goats and sheeps from the markets will only hamper their availability in some parts of the state.

“Following some incidents in the past and also a consistent opposition from animal rights groups across the world against the practice of sacrifice on Bakri Eid, the community leaders and even the Darool Uloom issued circulars last year advising members of the community to refrain from sharing videos of the sacrifice on social media or making a show of it. The ritual of sacrifice is meant to be an inherent, but an extremely private practice, and the restrain is necessary to make sure that the sentiment of other communities are not hurt in the process,” said Zuber Goplani, a Muslim social activist.

Meanwhile, local animal breeders said that Muslims prefer to purchase goats for sacrifice from breeding farms instead of mandis. “For Bakri Eid, special breeds of goats are reared for a couple of years before they are sold. Affording Muslim families book their goats at farms where the animals are fed a healthy diet. It also allows the buyers to choose popular goat breeds such as Jamnapari, Boer, Osmanabadi and even Beetal, which are not natives of Gujarat,” a private farm breeder from Vadodara district said on the condition of anonymity.
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