By: Andrew Carmichael
After confronting three suspected cattle rustlers on his premises at Number 64 Village, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) in the wee hours of Monday, a farmer was brutally beaten.
Cattle rustling on the Upper Corentyne is a regular occurrence. Many farmers are having their animals stolen from their pens and also from the savannahs where thousands of heads of cattle and small ruminants are being kept.
Many of these farmers had to put special security measures in place. One such farmer is Chandrapaul Hemraj of Number 64 Village.
However, on Monday morning he had an encounter with rustlers, who, from all indications, were attempting to steal his cattle. Upon seeing him, the men held him at gunpoint and started to assault him.
The 60-year-old farmer explained that due to the regular theft of his animals, he would hide in a tree and watch over his cattle.
On Sunday evening, he related that the three men arrived at his property on horses and went straight into the cow pen. Upon seeing this, he came out of hiding and confronted them.
“12 o’clock ah night they come and tie up their horse and come in and start catching my cow. Then I come down from the tree and I ask them why they taking the cow.”
He said he told them that the animals were his and questioned their presence in his pen. “One of them run and scramble me and knock me,” the farmer related while adding that soon after he raised an alarm.
“They throw me down to the ground and put a knife to my throat and tell me don’t move and one start cuffing me on my chest. After I start to holla, one of them say cut he neck. I say ‘why you all gon cut my neck; you all come to thief me cow – me supposed to cut you all neck.”
The elderly man’s screams alerted a fisherman who was on the beach and went to enquire. Upon seeing the fisherman, the three intruders mounted their horses and left.
Hemraj explained that he knew two of them. They left behind a cellular phone, a bag, and a rope.
Without hesitation, he immediately went to the Number 62 Police Outpost and reported the incident along with the names of the intruders.
Many farmers who have suffered at the hands of rustlers on the Upper Corentyne have been reluctant to report the matter to the Police, alleging collusion with some law enforcement officers and the criminals.
According to Hemraj, rustlers have over the years carried away dozens of his animals. He posited that cow rustling on the Upper Corentyne has become concerningly rampant.
“One time they carry away 184 from me one time. Now they carrying away 4 and then 5 and then 4 or 2… So they carried them away.”
Now, he said, he has just over 20 heads. Several special breading bulls that he purchased were also stolen and slaughtered.
Meanwhile, animal rights activist Gobin Harbhajan is of the view that law enforcement officers are not doing enough to protect cattle and other animal farmers.
He told this publication that sheep and goat farmers on the Upper Corentyne have also been facing difficulties in recent months.
“Cattle farmers are complaining, it is every other night they are losing animals and it is very sad that some of these cases would have been reported to the Police and I don’t know what is happening…”
He said some farmers have already sold their animals as they can ill afford the heavy losses.
“A cow would take one year to drop and then the calf would take four to five years for it to get to a size to sell it. I would like to see the law enforcement agency clamp down and start to catch some of the culprits.”
Harbhajan is urging farmers to cooperate with the Police and provide them with the necessary information so that the perpetrators can be caught and prosecuted.