cattle rustling high in Panadura and Kalutara areas

Published : 12:02 am  July 7, 2018 | No comments so far |  |  (229) reads | 

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By Thilanka Kanakarathna   

Cattle rustling has increased to an alarming rate in Panadura and Kalutara, where farmers were attacked by rustlers and threatened with the use of firearms and swords in most recent incidents.   


The lethargic behaviour of the law enforcement authorities had led to a rapid increase in cattle theft in Panadura and Kalutara areas, concerned cattle farmers told Daily Mirror.   


The farmers whose livelihoods depend on the industry said about 300 cattle were stolen during the last six months.   


According to the farmers, rustling in the area had become more organized since 2000 and was allegedly supported by high ranking police officials.   


Among the stolen cattle were expensive breeds such as Friesian, Sahiwal and Jersey that are priced at over Rs 100,000 to 150,000 and are capable of producing an average of 12 to 15 litres of milk per day.   

 

  • We earn around Rs. 2,000 by selling milk but our net profit is less than Rs. 700 per day


Residents said that recently the rustlers had threatened the farmers using fire arms and even attacked them with swords.   


Informed sources said that the stolen cattle were sold to meat shops around the area after they were skinned, soon after they were stolen leaving behind no trace of the animals.   


Speaking on the issue residents in Panadura said the rustlers used KDH Hiace vans to avoid suspicions and detections.   


A resident who wanted to remain anonymous said that one such vehicle was taken into custody with two cattle inside it but the vehicle was released with no legal action taken, allegedly when it was revealed that the vehicle belonged to an IP then attached to the Mirihana Police.   

 

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Anonymous 


“On August 17, 2017 two cattle belonging to me which were valued at Rs 120,000 each were stolen. The thieves with the KDH van which was used to transport the cattle were nabbed by the police in Bulathsinhala area two days later. I was then summoned to the police and the animals were returned. When I questioned why a lawsuit was not filed, police officers told me that the KDH was not used in the crime and that it bore a false registration plate when they stole the cattle. But the vehicle was released without any question. Then we were informed that the vehicle belonged to an IP at the Mirihana Police. We felt helpless as we can’t fight the police. The authorities who are meant to protect law and order are breaking it,” the source said.   

 

Sumith Wijewickrema (Cattle owner)


“From the year 2000, I have lost around 35 animals. We used to lodge complaints with the police earlier. But now the police don’t even receive our complaints. When we go to the police station they sometimes intimidate us and warn us about clashing with them. Sometimes they mislead us and dilly-dally around. We even showed the officers the areas where the cattle were sold but no arrests were made so far.   


“We fear that we will have to abandon this industry soon. This is the only thing we know and we purchase cattle for loans. We earn around Rs. 2,000 by selling milk but our net profit is less than Rs. 700 per day. We run our entire family from what we make here.   


“Due to the corrupt police officers, farmers now don’t lodge complaints with the police. They have lost faith in law enforcement authorities. With the support of the police, rustlers are running this racket well without any fear. We are living in fear as these thieves could even harm our lives. The matter was informed to the Police SP and the ASP of the Panadura Division but yet no action was taken,” he said.

 

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Nandeniya Malkanthi, Chairman, Milk Producers’ Society Nallooruwa 


“We founded this society six years ago when we were about to lose our patience. We have around 280 members today and do lots of community welfare activities in the area. I lost three expensive cattle early this year. I woke up after I heard a sound around 2 a.m. I went out to check what it was and I saw there were at least four people in my garden. They threatened me and told me to go inside or that they would shoot me and take my cattle anyway. I feared for my life and called the Panadura Police for help but they did not respond. Then I spoke to the DIG office and several police officers visited my house after an hour. They checked the garden and then instructed me to lodge a complaint in the morning. I went to complain but then they informed me that they can’t receive my complaint.   


I informed the matter to the DIG office and the IGP office but nothing happened.   


We got to know that the stolen cattle were skinned in Wadduwa and sold to meat shops across the area. The police are taking bribes from these shop owners and also receive meat for their family functions. Therefore the officers do not enforce the law against them.   


We realized that the rustling increased after the present Panadura HQI took office. There are several higher ranking officers in Panadura Division who have direct contacts with the thieves and the meat shop owners.   

 

  • On August 17, 2017 two cattle belonging to me which were valued at Rs 120,000 each were stolen


Because of these issues people have lost faith in law enforcement authorities. We can’t sleep in peace at night. Members of the society do patrols and watch the animals now. This is a very tiring job for us. We do not have weapons to fight with these thieves. At midnight these thieves load the cattle to a lorry near the Panadura clock tower. The Police are well aware of this but they take no action at all.   


Members of the Milk Producers Society in Nallooruwa recently held several protest campaigns in Panadura Town to show their displeasure over the law enforcement authorities.   


In their final attempt in June, officers attached to the Panadura Police had stopped their protest even before it began, to avoid receiving any unwanted attention to the matter.     


Spokesman from Kalutara DIG Range

The cattle farmers are responsible for this issue. They abandon their cattle on the roads and complain when cattle were stolen. This is what usually happens. They do not take care of their cattle or keep them in the sheds. It has been a severe issue to the area’s traffic control as well. We face this issue especially in the North of Kalutara, and North and South Panadura.   


Motorists and motorcyclists regularly meet with accidents due to these cattle roaming in the area.   


Other than this, cattle rustling in the area was very rare. Recently we have launched a programme with the support of the Panadura and Kalutara Urban council to round-up cattle roaming on the roads.   
We take legal action against cattle owners who let their cattle to roam free on the roads and hand the cattle over to cattle sheds. 

 
There is no truth in the people’s allegation that the police is ineffective. The Panadura North Police is conducting successful raids to minimize  cattle robbery in the area.  Although the farmers said that the police do not take down their complaints it is very rarely that these farmers visit the police to lodge complaints. As the law enforcement body we never discourage or force the farmers not to lodge complaints. It is our responsibility to record people’s complaints and probe them. Without making a proper complaint we cannot take action.   


Cattle farmers can directly contact the Kaluthara DIG office or other senior officials if they think that justice is not served to them by the police.   


To prevent cattle from going missing, farmers should not leave their cattle to loiter on the roads.