A Bharatiya Janata Party-backed outfit in West Bengal will conduct a census of the cattle population in the state in an attempt to raise awareness about how to protect them.
From August 1, hundreds of volunteers of the Gau Raksha Committee, which boasts many BJP members, will fan out in the state for the exercise, the outfit said.
The survey will be done in two parts. A head count of cows will be done and it will be repeated after Bakr Eid in September to see how many cows went missing.
"Every year during Bakr Eid, thousands of cows are slaughtered and are smuggled to Bangladesh. This has to stop. It is true that cow slaughter is not banned in the state but even if a cow is to be slaughtered, there are certain norms to follow," Subrata Gupta, president of committee, told PTI.
Asked to explain the 'norms', Gupta said, "A cows is eligible to be slaughtered and sold if she is 14 years of age, doesn't have any disease and is not pregnant. A medical officer also needs to certify. But in most of the cases, a cow as young as four years old is sold and smuggled."
Gupta said that recently Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said she wanted to see cattle smuggling curbed. "So being a citizen of this country and state, this is our duty to stop cow smuggling."
"After Bakr Eid, we will visit the households which we visited earlier and take a headcount of the cows. Id we find the cows missing, then we will inquire about the official papers and medical papers that are needed for selling a cow. If the papers are not satisfactory, we will file FIRs about the missing cows," Gupta said.
The BJP, which has increased its vote share from four per cent in 2011 to 10.2 per cent in 2016 winning three assembly seats, has often flagged the issue of cow smuggling through the porous Indo-Bangla border.
"Our volunteers will keep a close watch on all the entry and exit routes of transportation of cattle in the state," he said.
Gupta claimed that last year before Bakr Eid, the outfit had saved thousands of cows, which were illegally sold, from being slaughtered.
In December last year, an NGO trying to raise awareness against cow slaughter had come up with a novel idea of organising a "selfie with a cow" contest in the city.