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Gujarat Dalits' anti-cow vigilantes protest on May 10 to insist: Death due to plastics must also attract life sentence

By Our Representative
In a unique move, Gujarat’s grassroots activist Natubhai Parmar, who shot into prominence by unloading truckload of cow carcasses before Surendranagar district collectorate during post-Una protests against cow vigilantism last year, has decided collect 182 kg of plastics in a cow prototype to stage yet another protest. Parmar, who heads Navnirman Sarvajanik Trust, a local Dalit rights organization, has issued a leaflet which says that the 182 kg of plastic “signifies” 182 MLAs of Gujarat state assembly.
The leaflet says, cows die because they are forced to plastic along with food leftover, and this should be qualified as cow slaughter, on which a new law was cleared in the Gujarat state assembly last month. The law is extremely stringent and entails a maximum of life imprisonment and a minimum of 10 years for cow slaughter.
Not only Muslims, against whom the law is allegedly directed, but Dalits, too, have not taken kindly to the law. Dalits protested across Gujarat last year following the gruesome beating of four Dalit boys in Una on July 11 by cow vigilantes, who accused them of cow slaughter, though they were on their traditional job – of skinning dead cattle.
The proposed protest, which is to take place on May 10 in Surendranagar, a district which has a larger proportion of Dalit population, 12 per cent, compared to 6.7 per cent in Gujarat, will be demanding post mortem of every cow which dies in order to ensure the reason for its death.
To be supported by Navsarjan Trust Gujarat’s biggest Dalit rights organization, and a committee formed to celebrate Guatam Buddha's birthday (May 3), the leaflet, which is being publicly distributed to elicit support, wants that the owner of the cow should be held responsible in case the cow dies on consuming plastic. 
The leaflet
It adds, each living cow’s stomach should be “scanned” by x-ray or sonography to see the amount of plastic in its stomach, even as ensuring that the plastic should be taken out through a medical operation.
Other demands include a complete ban on plastics in Gujarat, aadhaar card to each cow so that it is provided with fodder from especially designated ration shops, and so on.
The leaflet claims, a major reason why cows eat plastic along with leftover food is, there a sharp decrease in grazing lands or gauchars, which were traditionally available for the cows in Gujarat.
According to a report, Gujarat suffers from a shortage of a whopping 65 per cent of the common village land, meant for gauchar. The Maldhari Rural Action Group (MARAG), an Ahmedabad-based non-profit organisation, which surveyed 90 villages in three districts – Kutch, Patan and Surendranagar – found that in 30 villages of Nakhatra taluka of Kutch district, there should have been 24,880.8 acres of land for 65,317 cattle, if the official norm of 40 acre for 100 cattleheads is to be maintained.
“However, the survey found that only 2,736.1 acres of land existed as gauchar, suggesting a shortfall of 74.08 per cent”, it added.
The situation was found to be not very different for 30 villages taken up for survey in Shankheshwar taluka of Patan district, where, officially, there should have been 11,278 acres of gauchar land, though only 4,290.9 acres (or 37 per cent of the actual requirement) was available for 28,195 cattleheads.
Similarly, in the 30 villages surveyed in the Patdi taluka of Surendrangar district, there should have been 10,180 acres of land, while only 5,083.23 acres (or 50 per cent) gauchar was available to feed 25,450 cattleheads.

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