Shaken by a pack of dogs mauling a seven-year-old girl to death earlier this week, residents of Pisawa village in Mathura district are loath to step out to their farms, let alone send their children to the government school.
Devki’s death on Monday, when she was trudging through the fields to deliver food to her father Bhoop Singh at their farm a kilometre away from home, is linked not only to a dog menace in the area but also to ‘cow politics’.
Village headman Kali Charan said there’s no one to dispose of carcasses since potential contractors are afraid of being attacked by right-wing activists; the previous contract expired six months ago. A district-level official admitted as much: “No contractor is coming forward because of the fear of getting lynched while transporting cow carcasses. The immediate solution is castration of dogs.”
Bhoop Singh, father of Devki, who was mauled to death by stray dogs at Pisawa village in Mathura, and (right) the spot where she was killed.
‘No other option’
“We are left with no other option than to dump the cattle carcasses on the outskirts of the village, where stray dogs and birds feed upon them. The dogs have turned violent in the absence of a regular supply of meat,” said Suraj Pal Singh, another villager.
Pisawa residents are agitated over the fact that no officer from the district administration has visited the village after the tragic incident. “Instances of cattle being attacked by stray dogs are common in the area but this is the first time a human life has been lost,” pointed out Sita Ram, a villager. “We are pained that no government official is taking the incident seriously nor has anyone visited the victim’s family even four days after her death,” he said.
The farmers have just harvested the rabi crop and are readying their farms for the kharif season, but the fear of stray dogs is keeping them away from their fields.
“To guard crops from stray animals and nilgai, farmers have to spend the night in the field. The district administration has failed to stop the stray cattle menace. Now, the fear of dogs has forced us off the fields. There seems to be no end to the problems of farmers,” said Rameshwar Singh, a farmer.
While calls to Mathura District Magistrate Sarvagya Ram Mishra went unreturned, Sudhir Singh, an official of Chhata tehsil under which Pisawa village falls, said that a new contractor to dispose of animal carcasses will be selected after the election model code of conduct period ends.
At Devki’s home, mother Kamlesh is inconsolable. “Every day before going to school, she used to take food for her father at the farm. She was her dad’s favourite… she never allowed her siblings to go. I can’t forget the last time I saw her before she left for the farm,” she said of the third of her five children.