“Gau rakshak” has acquired a pejorative connotation because of the cow vigilante groups running amok in different parts of the country, but here’s a true “gau rakshak” who goes about saving cows silently, but relentlessly.

He does not intercept cattle owners or traders to bash them up, but quietly saves the hapless cows from chewing used blades, metal scrap, broken glass, pieces of tube lights, bulbs and utensils. He is Dhaval Rajyagura (35) an electrician with the Gujarat Electricity Board (GEB) at Sihore in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat. With a single-minded devotion, Dhaval ensures that used blades, metal pieces and broken glass utensils are not thrown in garbage bins where cattle gather to munch vegetable leftovers. After convincing the barbers of the area not to throw their used blades in garbage bins, Dhaval now regularly collects them from nearly 200 saloons in all the villages in between his native town Sihore and Songadh and Gangli towns of Bhavnagar district.

Dhaval began what has become a life mission accidentally about two years back. “As a night patrolling team of GEB I had gone to a village to restore power supply there. As my torchlight focussed on a garbage bin, a heap of shining objects caught my attention,” Dhaval told The Statesman. As he walked closer, Dhaval found the shining objects to be used blades and, worse, half a dozen cows were bleeding from their mouths after chewing them along with the mango skin and other vegetable waste in the garbage heap. “There were four kilos of used blades, maybe a whole year’s stock from a big saloon,” Dhaval said.

Next morning, he went to all the barbers in the vicinity to make them understand the consequences of throwing used blades in the garbage bins along with vegetable waste. After convincing the barbers to hand over all used blades to him, Dhaval now spends nearly four or five days every month to collect these from all the 200-odd saloons and single barbers in the nearby villages. Despite the nature of his work, Dhaval refuses to be identified as a ‘Gau Rakshak’, as the word is understood in modern times. “Gau sewa has become a ‘dhandha’ (business), they collect money in the name of cow, but do nothing”, Dhaval said about the organised ‘Gau Rakshak’ squads. After disposing of the used blades beyond the reach of cattle, Dhaval went looking for other dangerous things in the garbage bins. He found used syringes with needles, cracked injection ampules, broken glass bottles, bangles, scrap metal pieces, tube lights and bulbs ~ all mixed with vegetable waste that attract cattle.

Initially Dhaval buried all the collected items in a deep hole far away from the village and covered them with big stones so that cattle cannot reach them. On the suggestion of an engineer in GEB, he is now selling them to the traditional furnace owners who recycle metal waste. “Till now, I have sold 15 to 20 kilos of used blades and small metal pieces and used the money to feed the cows,” Dhaval said.