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Cows come home, from Visva to road

Santiniketan, Nov. 18: The cows are off the Visva-Bharati campus but have become Santiniketan’s traffic headache.

Residents said the cows, no longer being allowed to enter the campus, often refuse to budge from the middle of the road — causing traffic jams, sometimes for 30 minutes. Some even alleged that the animals came in the way when they were riding bicycles, often leading to a fall.

“We are fed up with the cows. They no longer allow the animals to enter the Visva-Bharati campus. So they stray on the roads, mostly in the evening. The roads have virtually become cowsheds. The cows often block the roads. We have to stop our vehicles sometimes for 30 minutes. We have to drive out the cows with sticks and then proceed,” said Anil Konar, a former Visva-Bharati employee.

A Kala Bhavan student recounted: “A week ago, I was returning home at Shyambati in Santiniketan on my scooter. I blew the horn as a cow came in front of my vehicle. I failed to control the scooter and fell down. My hands and back were injured.”

The Telegraph had in August reported that varsity officials had gone around Bolpur urging cow owners on the public address system that their animals should not stray into Visva-Bharati.

“We had appealed to the owners of the cows but there was no response. Our guards drove the animals away and are now preventing them from entering the campus. But these cows are now roaming around on several Santiniketan roads. Their owners are least bothered. Our employees often find it difficult to go home in the evening or at night in cars or two-wheelers because cows block their way,” a Visva-Bharati official said.

Varsity spokesperson Amrit Sen urged the Birbhum administration to sort out the problem. “We have tried our best to drive out the cows. But the problem is still there in the town as owners have not responded to our appeal to come and take the animals away. The district administration should intervene now.”

The vice-chairman of the Trinamul-run Bolpur municipality, Naresh Bauri, said the varsity authorities were yet to discuss the matter with them. “We will first speak to the councillors of wards adjoining Visva-Bharati and then identify the owners of the cows,” he said.

Cow owners in Bolpur said they let the animals roam around because they either couldn’t afford a cowshed or they didn’t have a place at home to build one.

Sources said the animals mostly belonged to people who lived within the Bolpur municipality area and neighbouring villages such as Banerpukurdanga.

A guard at Visva-Bharati said: “We know that most of the cows belong to tribal or poor families. They have no cowshed in their house. So, they let their animals graze at night, too. The owners take the animals home once a day to milk them and then let them roam around.”