In my travels to the countryside of Haryana’s Nuh until about six years ago, I would see cows tethered outside almost every house—a common sight across most villages in India. Each evening, the air would cloud up with swirls of cow-dust, raised by large herds returning home after grazing, and resound with the ringing of cow-bells.
But not anymore. Today cows have virtually disappeared from Meo homes across Nuh.
A region spread over parts of Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, Mewat has been home to the Meo community for decades if not centuries. The Meos are an impoverished pastoral-agricultural community, which follows parts of both Islamic and Hindu customs. The highest concentration of the Meo people is found in the Nuh district—also called Mewat till 2016—where 80 percent of the population is Muslim.