Rest of Asia

India: Bullocks come in handy for fuel price protestors

Web Report/Kochi
Filed on July 13, 2021
Image: The Hindu via Twitter

Hiring bullock carts to protest against the fuel price hike happened in many parts of India

While most people fear a fuel price hike, K.K. Soman, a businessman from Koothattukulam, a small town in Kerala’s Ernakulam district, does not mind it. In fact, he looks forward to the sharp spikes, as demand for his bullocks increase, with protesting politicians wanting to ride the cart.

Fuel hike protests with leaders sitting in the bullock cart make excellent photo ops and many politicians grab the opportunity. On Monday, for instance, the local District Congress Committee held a bullock cart protest after petrol prices breached the Rs100 a litre mark.

The two creatures and the cart were transported in a vehicle along with five persons to manage them, said a news report.

Soman, who earned a handsome Rs20,000 for the day’s deal, told the media that maintaining bullocks cost at least Rs300 to Rs400 a day. “I retain them in keeping with a family tradition,” he said.

In the pre-Covid days, some people used to hire his bullocks for weddings when the bride and groom would ride the carts. He would charge them about Rs15,000. But the pandemic has reduced demand for the bullock carts.

Interestingly, hiring bullock carts to protest against the fuel price hike happened in many parts of India. In Mumbai, Bhai Jagtap, a local Congress leader and several other party workers also used a bullock cart on Monday to protest the fuel hike. However, there were several ‘protestors,’ obviously eyeing a photo-opportunity, on the cart. After a while, the poor animals could not move ahead and collapsed, sustaining injuries.

Sunish Subramanian, the honorary district animal welfare officer, has asked the police to book the Congress workers under the Prevention of Animal Cruelty Act. “They used a bullock cart for a protest and overcrowded it,” he told the media. “A bullock cart cannot take this much load. This is cruelty to animals. Politicians often use animals for protests. I have told the police to not allow anyone to use animals for protests or election campaigning.”

And in Telangana, Damodar Rajanarasimha, a senior Congress leader and former deputy chief minister of the then undivided state of Andhra Pradesh, also hired a bullock cart to protest the fuel hike. Unfortunately, in his case, the animals panicked on seeing such a large crowd, dragging him and his supporters down.

The Congress, of course, is not to be left behind in the bullock cart race. Shashi Tharoor, the party’s leader from Kerala, posted on Twitter rare footage from 1973 of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee riding a bullock cart to Parliament, protesting against the seven paise hike in petrol prices.

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