On Friday night at 11.45 pm, a gang of cattle smugglers entered a farmer's house in Agra's Kotrekapura village. As they tried to run away with his buffalo, the farmer, Charan Singh, woke up and nabbed one of the thieves. But he was shot dead by other gang members.

The police later found out that the smugglers had come in a pick-up truck, armed with deadly weapons.

In mainstream media, the case was reported only by The Times of India with the headline 'Farmer killed by cattle smuggler in Agra'. However, you can read a more detailed report by Hindi newspaper Amar Ujala here.

Source: b'Family of Charan Singh mourns his death / Amar Ujala'

A day later, cattle smugglers hit the city again. They fired shots and stole a buffalo from Putpura Ujjawali village of Fatehabad. The case again went unreported by almost all media houses, except for The Times of India which clubbed it with the above-mentioned copy.

These aren't stray incidents but a continuation of a series of deadly attacks carried out by cattle smugglers on farmers across India. Gangs of smugglers enter villages at night, armed with guns and pistols, to kidnap cattle before fleeing away in trucks which they sell for slaughter. 

A report by Mail Today in September 2016 estimated that about 3,000 cows and oxen are being smuggled every day from villages of Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and states on the India-Bangladesh border. A Times of India report said smugglers are increasingly going after buffaloes. 

Explaining their modus operandi, a 2013 report in New York Times on the rising incidents of cattle theft in India said, "Typically, the rustlers creep into the city at night. When the criminals spot stray cattle and few onlookers they stop the truck, push out a ramp and use a rope to lead the cow to its doom. The thieves can usually fit about 10 cows on a truck, and each fetches Rs 5,000."

Source: b'Picture for representation'

Cattle smugglers are brutal...

"[The smugglers] think little of ramming police cars and breaking through barricades. They have even pushed cows into the pathways of their pursuers, forcing horrified officers to swerve out of the way to avoid what for many is still a grievous sin," the NYT report further said. 

...And deadly

The smugglers don't let anyone stand in their way to make a quick buck, even if it means killing mercilessly. 

Here is a list of some of the many incidents from across India where they have ended up brutally killing villagers and even cops, or attempted to kill them, to evade being caught.

Source: b'Picture for representation'

Phool Singh, a gau rakshak in Rajasthan's Ramgarh district for 17 years, told ScoopWhoop News that the trend of smugglers coming armed with pistols has increased over the past few years.   

Even as the country is campaigning against crimes committed by men in the name of cow protection, this is another issue that deserves attention. The menace doesn't find much space in mainstream media but is one that a civilised society must stand up against.