Sunday, October 11, 2015

                                Butcher turned Bodyguard 

          A heart-wrenching story unfolds in a village in Beed, the epicenter of drought in Marathawada, as a Muslim family— belonging to the traditional butchers' community—struggles to take care of their 165-strong cattle herd. 
Acute shortage of water and cattle feed is making it difficult for the cattle to survive the drought. 
Shabbir's family with their cattle.Image source : Dailymotion
The last hailstorm had claimed the lives of three calves and two cows apart from 12 cows dying within the last five years when the region was under a spell of acute drought.

The family does not own a phone and communication is facilitated by a local scribe Navnath Yewale. 
Shabbir and his family is dedicated to their cattle, a tradition initiated by Shabbir’s father Budan Sayyad in the seventies. 

The family neither sells milk, nor offers the cow for meat. 
The bulls are sold only to local farmers at heavily-discounted prices on a written undertaking that they will not be sold to butchers and will be returned once they are old.

The family makes its living by selling cow dung as manure to farmers which fetches them about Rs 70,000 per year. 

The family’s transition, from belonging to the butcher’s community to become the protectors of cattle is interesting. 
“My father wanted to overcome the shame of being a Khatik, the term used in villages for butchers. 
"He started with two cows that he had saved from the butcher’s knives and began taking care of them,” said Shabbir. 
Following in his father’s footsteps, Shabbir purchased 10 cows from a butcher in 1972 and took care of them.
As news spread about this extra-ordinary butcher’s family of Dahiwandi, locals began assigning their aging cattle to their care. 

The numbers swelled to the 165 cattle that the family have under their care now. Shabbir’s family, including his wife Ashrabi, sons Ramzan and Yusuf and daughters-in-law Rizwan and Anzum do not consume beef. 
Shabbir herds the cattle into the wild to graze on the little vegetation available in the region.