The top story on prime time on Times Now on November 30 was over how the cattle slaughter mafia resort to cruel practices in slaughterhouses. The story ran with the hashtag #CowSlaughterCruelty. It talked about how rules and norms are flouted in the process of slaughter and how brutality is meted out to cattle. There were three different videos broadcast by the channel for the story which talked about the brazenness of the cattle mafia and how animals were subjected to cruelty.

In the third video of the story, it can be seen that the buffalo’s feet have been tied and a log has been placed over it. The buffalo is then made to twist from one end to the other while men climb on to the log placed over its belly. Rahul Shivshankar, Editor-in-chief of Times Now, voicing over these visuals in the 8 pm programme ‘India Upfront’ says

“Tape 3 shows torture not just by the butchers but even the owners of the cattle. they are beaten with canes sticks and chains their bones are broken and their eyes are gouged out. watch these pictures. This is the reality. All those today that consume beef, this is how your beef is processed this is how it arrives and lands on your tables and the govt today wants to reverse the ban on trade of cattle for slaughter just six months after it was imposed because it is under pressure from lobbies, it is under pressure from parties in various states”

The channel also conducted a debate on this issue in its prime time programme ‘The Newshour’ from 10-11 pm.

Alt News found out that the aforementioned video used by Times Now claiming torture of cattle is actually a technique used by veterinarians to cure a particular condition that commonly afflicts cattle during pregnancy. This condition is known as ‘uterine torsion’ which commonly means ‘twisted uterus’. The video which the channel claims is torture is a technique which is known as Schaeffer’s method for correcting the torsion.

According to this method, a flexible and thick wooden plank is used to secure the uterus as the buffalo is rolled from one side to the other. The plank is used to anchor the uterus in place and correct the torsion. Alt News spoke to Dr Farhat Umar, expert veterinarian based in New Delhi and Alumni of National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, who confirmed to us that it is indeed a technique for curing a uterus problem in cattle. “Sometimes, in pregnant cows and buffaloes, the uterus gets dislocated. This is known as uterine torsion. The plank is used to fix the uterus and then the animal is rotated from side to side to cure the torsion. In the Times Now video, the anchor has presented this as cruelty but it is not so”, he said.

Here is a video from Youtube that demonstrates the technique of uterine torsion in cattle.

That is not all. In the first video, a bull is shown being struck forcefully on the head. The voice over of the anchor Anand Narsimhan screams over these visuals, “This is the bull at the spot. Now you see the arrow pointing on your screen? That man has a sledgehammer in his hand and he is landing that sledgehammer with all his might on the forehead of the bull there. Not once, twice. The bull just falls on to the ground stunned because of the impact of the blow that has been meted out, the cruelty that its been meted out with…”

This act of forcefully striking the head of cattle is known as ‘stunning’. It is a well established procedure in the slaughter industry. The stunning device is used to stun the animal and render it unconscious before slaughter. Stunning is a modern technique that was adopted by the cattle slaughter industry in the early half of the 20th century to make slaughter painless. The website of Information System on Organic Livestock Farming in its recommendations for transport and slaughter states, “Each animal shall be stunned before being bled to death. The equipment used for stunning should be in good working order.

Dr Farhat confirmed this with Alt News. “There is a method of slaughter called the humane method according to which the animal is stunned. It is an efficient method. This is a scientifically approved method for making the animal unconscious. The video of stunning has been presented as cruelty”.

A false narrative was sought to be established and popularised by broadcasting misleading information. The use of the hashtag #CowSlaughterCruelty by Times Now was provocative and betrayed a desperate attempt to once again divert attention from core issues. Visuals of a regular veterinarian procedure were used to allege animal cruelty, and the way the story was presented suggested a clear attempt to rake up religious sentiments and keep such issues at the forefront of public discourse. Moreover, the story run by the channel did not mention when and where these videos were shot. It is also not unlikely that an effort is being made to mould public opinion over the issue of cattle slaughter in the light of the Government’s decision to withdraw the notification banning trade of cattle for slaughter in livestock markets.

About the Author

Arjun Sidharth is a writer with Alt News. He has previously worked in the television news industry, where he managed news bulletins and breaking news scenarios, apart from scripting numerous prime time television stories. He has also been actively involved with various freelance projects. Sidharth has studied economics, political science, international relations and journalism. He has a keen interest in books, movies, music, sports, politics, foreign policy, history and economics. His hobbies include reading, watching movies and indoor gaming.