The Uttar Pradesh Police have arrested four people in Aligarh district for allegedly attacking vehicles transporting 800 stray cattle, NDTV reported on Thursday. The administration was moving the cattle to shelters on Tuesday evening after farmers had locked them up on the premises of a government school and a primary healthcare centre, claiming that the animals were damaging their crops.

Protestors attacked the vehicles, allegedly because of rumours on WhatsApp that the animals were being taken for slaughter, Senior Superintendent of Police (Aligarh) AK Sahni told ANI. Two cases have been filed and an investigation is underway, he added.

Mathura Prasad Sharma, a farmer, said neither the district administration nor the state government had taken any action even though the animals destroy crops. Shyam Bihari, a resident of Gorai, told NDTV that villagers were staying awake at night to protect their farms. “We are also falling sick because of this,” Bihari said. “So we chose to lock the stray animals together in a health centre.”

According to The Economic Times, the healthcare centre was shut for a day after the cattle were locked up in its premises.

Instances of farmers locking up cattle in government property were also reported from Tamotia village in Iglas division, Ahraula village of Khair division and Edalpur in Sadabad division. This comes even as Chief Minister Adityanath on Tuesday directed officials to make immediate arrangements for proper care of stray cows.

Aligarh District Magistrate CB Singh said he had directed a sub-divisional magistrate to visit Gorai after the incident, reported ANI. “Village heads will be given responsibility to solve the issue,” Singh said. “We are in the process of constructing cow shelters in various villages.”

Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Iglas (Aligarh) Ashok Kumar Sharma said farmers were responsible for the problem of stray cattle. “Once a cow stops giving milk they leave it on the streets,” Sharma told The Economic Times. “Over a period, the number has really gone up.”

Kumar said around 2,000 cattle have been shifted to 12 shelters or gaushalas in the past three days. “But the gaushalas have a limit and we can’t force more cattle there,” he said, adding that the administration was making arrangements for cow sanctuaries. “But all this will take around two months. Till then farmers should cooperate.”