photo: Devotees put colored powder on a cow as they celebrate Holi, the Hindu festival of color, in Vrindavan, in northern India. As many as 1.5 million cows are smuggled out of India into Bangladesh each year. (Manish Swarup, Associated Press / May 3, 2010)
Most Indian politicians don't discuss the thriving business of cow smuggling from Hindu-majority India, where the animals are revered, to Muslim-majority Bangladesh, where many people enjoy beef.
For a cow, it doesn't get much better than India.
Wander the streets surrounded by vegetarians, enjoy being adorned with garlands and treated with god-like reverence as you look forward to dying of old age.
But danger lurks, even in paradise.
A dirty little secret that most Indian politicians don't discuss is the thriving cow smuggling trade from their Hindu-majority nation, home of the sacred cow, to Muslim-majority Bangladesh, where many people enjoy a good steak. The trade is particularly robust around the Muslim festival of Eid.
India has outlawed cattle exports, but that hasn't prevented well-organized traffickers from herding millions of the unlucky beasts each year onto trains and trucks, injecting them with drugs on arrival so they walk faster, then forcing them to ford rivers and lumber into slaughterhouses immediately across the border.