from a New York Times article.
"Brajveer Singh does not own a wide-brimmed hat, leather boots or a
pair of jeans. He has never ridden a mechanical bull.
Cow catchers rely on rope lassos and brute strength to capture the
cows, whose slaughter is banned throughout most of India.
But he can lay claim to being a real-life urban cowboy. Mr. Singh is
among the dozens of men who spend their days roping cattle on the
streets of this city as part of a long and frustrating battle to rid
India's capital of stray cows.
There is perhaps no more stereotypical image of India than that of a
stray cow sauntering down the middle of a busy city street, seemingly
oblivious to the traffic swerving around it.
Hindus consider cows sacred animals, and their slaughter is banned
throughout most of India. Cows are frequently allowed to wander where
they please, even in cities, where Indians tend to view them much the
way Americans and Europeans regard pigeons — an unpleasant but
intractable part of the urban landscape.
But in New Delhi, many residents long ago lost patience with the
thousands of stray cattle. In 2002, after citizens petitioned the
courts to do something about them, judges ordered the cattle cleared
from the roads.
Six years later, however, the cows are still here. In September, the
government missed the latest in a series of court-ordered deadlines
for their removal, but officials say the city is committed to solving
the problem before the Commonwealth Games, which will be in New Delhi
Meeting that goal is up to Mr. Singh and the city's 164 other "cow catchers."
One recent morning, Mr. Singh and the seven other men in his team
gathered near their truck in Old Delhi, the capital's ancient heart.
Seven of them squeezed into the cab, while one stood scraping day-old
manure out of the truck's long, high-sided bed.
They set off looking for cows.
This is dangerous work. Only on the rare occasions when a trained
veterinarian accompanies them are the cattle catchers allowed to use
tranquilizer darts or a stun gun. Instead, they rely on rope lassos
and brute strength to capture the beasts, which often charge into
traffic or kick and buck violently in an attempt to escape.
On this particular day, Mr. Singh literally seized a young bull by the
horns, wrestling him into position for roping.
"The key is, once you have the horn in your hand, try hard not to let
go," he said with a grin.
He and the other cow catchers all have tales of being injured on the
job, suffering everything from rope burns to broken bones. One even
lost an eye when he was gored by a bull.
But far more dangerous than the cattle, according to the cowboys, are
the people they encounter. The cow catchers have been involved in
fistfights with drivers enraged that the cowboys have blocked traffic
while trying to remove cows from a busy road. Religious Hindus, who
sometimes feed the stray cattle found near temples, have on rare
occasions been known to pelt cow catchers with stones.
"It's an occupational hazard," said the city's most senior cow
catcher, Virpal Singh, who is no relation to Brajveer Singh."
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