In 2001, during the famed Pushkar fair in Rajasthan, Bagdiramji, a leader of the Raika community, summoned us to the Ram Raika Mandir. " Thousands of female camels have been bought for slaughter in Uttar Pradesh and other places. This must be stopped,' he pleaded.
The Raika leader's request left us stunned. We had been researching on, and working with this community of camel breeders for the past 10 years. On numerous occasions, the Raikas had related us how the Hindu deity, Shiva had entrusted the care of the camel to this community. The idea of using camels for meat was absolutely abhorrent to the Raikas.
This sentiment also manifested in a letter that Bagdiramji drafted the night of our meeting. A dozen other members of his community signed the missive. "We are animal breeders, and selling female camels means the end of our livelihood. These animals are like our children; we should not sell them.'
At the Raika leader's request, we mailed this testimony to half a dozen authorities