Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The curious case of a missing cow

CHENNAI, India: Two persons claiming ownership of a cow, a broken horn as the common identification mark and a confused police force. This case had all the makings of a mystery, till science stepped in. An inspection by a veterinarian confirmed the approximate time when the horn broke and the cow was handed over to the claimant who got the time right.

It all started with Savari Ammal (55), who sells milk for a living at Kumaran Nagar, complaining to the Avadi police that one of her cows had gone missing in July 2008. After a gap of about eight months, she found the cow on March 16, 2009. But soon a person called Adi Kesavan came to her, claiming that the cow belonged to him.

Savari Ammal had, in her complaint to the police, said that the cow was pregnant when it went missing and that one of its horns was broken. When Kesavan insisted that she return “his” cow, he was asked for any identification mark on his cow. “A broken horn,” came the reply, putting the police in a spot. The only difference in his version was that the horn had broken two months ago, while Ammal said her cow’s horn had broken nearly a year ago.

Doctors of the Government Veterinary College in Vepery were surprised when some policemen — with a cow sporting only one horn, in tow — came to them in the last week of March. The doctors were asked to determine when the horn had broken off.

“Looking at the growth of the outer layer (corium) of the horn (which continues to grow), they found that it had broken about a couple of months ago,” said Avadi inspector Kannan. The cow was handed over to Kesavan, but Savari Ammal, not willing to give up her claim on the animal, has approached the suburban police commissioner.