Maungdaw, Arakan State: Cows lifting business is going on between Natala or Rakhine villagers in Maungdaw north since June 28, according to a villager named Kholil (not real name). “Recently, Natala or Rakhine villagers getting support or encouragement from local police or Hluntin are lifting cattle (cows and buffaloes) of Rohingya villagers from grazing fields or from cowsheds at night.”
Why do the Natala villagers mostly lifting cows from Rohingya villagers in rainy season? It is clear that Rohingya farmers are using draught cattle for tilling their lands to grow paddy in rainy season. Without their draught cattle, they (farmers) are not able to plough their lands, a Rohingya youth said from the locality preferring not to be named.
After lifting cows, the Natala villagers kept them in their village, and then asked the Rohingya villagers that if there is any cattle or cows were missing from their village. The owners of the cows have to contact to the Natala villagers who had lifted the cows to get back their cows, the youth more added.
The Natala villagers ask to the owners of the cows to pay money at the rate of half current selling rates in the open market. For instance, if the cow is being sold at Kyat 400,000/- in the open market, the owner of the cow has to pay Kyat 200,000 to the Natala villagers to be released, otherwise, they will not release the cattle. Why do they are able to do this? The Natala villagers of Aung Mingala of Maung Nama village and Aung Zaya of Wabeg village are lifting cows from Rohingya villagers. They are protected by police or Hluntin, according to a local trader who refused to be named.
On June 28, two cows from Noor Mohamed of Maung Nama south village of Maungdaw north were lifted by Natala villagers at night from his cowsheds. They were released after taking Kyat 300,000 from the cows’ owner, a close relative of the victim said.
Besides, on June 29, another two cows were lifted by Natala villagers from the Maung Nama Aley Wra (village) while the cows were grazing in the field. The owner of the cows is Mohamed Salam and he paid Kyat 350,000 to the Natala villagers to release his cows, a businessman who is relative with the victim said.
This is also a kind of local authorities’ plan to eliminate or cripple the economics of the Rohingya community, said a local elder.