Shimla : With more and more cattle being discarded by farmers in recent years across Himachal Pradesh their deaths are also sharply rising particularly in the ongoing bitter winter cold .
Despite a strict law in place with each animal being ear tagged people continue to abandon old cows who are no longer useful to them .
Also male calfs are discarded while female calfs are preciously retained .
Pick-up vehicles are mostly used to ship these unwanted animals to far-off places often in the dead of night .
This illegal activity goes on but one never hears of police or village councils (panchayats) nabbing people moving and abandoning their animals .
While the cattle do try to survive for much of the year, but survival becomes very hard in the harsh winter.
In this season half of the hill state is covered in snow with sub-zero temperatures for long periods the stray cattle just starve and freeze to death.
There are reports of cattle dying in large numbers at several places .
If stray cattle being accommodated in the few cow sheds run by private and government agencies , how come one never hears about it.
Others say there are so few stray cattle cow sheds in the state while the number of homeless animals is far more .
According to the latest count there are over 52 lakh cattle in Himachal including , cows , buffaloes, sheep, goats ,horses and mules.
But it is the cows which are subject to most cruelty by farmers after being milked often for 20 years .
The number of cows has grown fast in recent years as villagers prefer high milk yielding breeds like Jersey and Holstein .
If a male calf is born it is weaned away soon and abandoned while a female calf is retained as it will calve within the next couple of years .
Apart from dying from hunger and cold , these abandoned cattle are whipped mercilessly by farmers when they get into their fields.
Often these homeless animals are attacked by dog packs and by solitary leopards. While the rest just wither away and wait for death to free them of their misery !