Chhattisgarh BJP leader Harish Verma has blamed his party for the death of several cows at his government-aided gaushala in the state’s Durg district.
Verma was arrested on 19 August after the Chhattisgarh Rajya Gau Sewa Aayog lodged an FIR alleging that a lack of proper facilities at Verma’s cow shelter had led to the deaths.
Speaking to reporters after his arrest, Verma blamed the BJP-led state government for not providing him with enough funds to take care of the cows in his shelter. He said that the cow shelter was housing 400 cows more than its estimated capacity.
He told The Indian Express:
There are meant to be 220 cows, but there are 600. The government is meant to give me Rs 10 lakh per year to maintain the gaushala. But they have not paid for the past two years.
He said he had written to the Chhattisgarh Gau Seva Aayog in December and March to inform them about the lack of funds.
Also Read: Rains, Lack of Fodder Kills 25 Cows at Govt Shelter in Kurukshetra
BJP Defends Itself, Calls Verma a “Hatyara”
Dr Panigrahi, of the Chhatisgarh Gau Seva Ayog – set up by the state government for the welfare of cows – leapt to the BJP's defence. He said payments were suspended because of irregularities like overcrowding in the operation of the gaushala.
The Indian Express quoted Dr Panigrahi as saying:
Anyway, the grant cannot be the only source of income for a gaushala. Gauseva is meant to be self-operated and we can give assistance. The cows are weak and the district teams are working there now.
Dipanshu Kabra, IG (Durg range) stated that an FIR has been registered against Verma and he has been arrested under sections related to breach of trust and negligence.
On Friday, hours before his arrest, slogans were raised against him calling him a “hatyara (murderer)”.
Exact Cause of Death Yet to be Ascertained
Verma, who holds the post of vice-president in Jamul Municipality, has been booked under sections 4 and 6 of Chhattisgarh Agricultural Cattle Preservation Act 2004, under section 11 of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 and section 409 (criminal breach of trust) of the IPC.
He claimed that the cows died due to collapse of a boundary wall on 15 August. Durg Additional Collector Sanjay Agrawal said:
In the last three days, 27 cows were reported to have died of unknown reasons in the gaushala of Rajpur. Around 500 bovines were housed in the government-aided shelter home.
Agrawal added the exact cause of the deaths was yet to be ascertained as the blood samples of the carcasses of the cows have been sent to laboratories and reports are awaited. Durg Superintendent of Police Amresh Mishra told PTI:
A case was registered on 18 August against Harish Verma in connection with the death of the cows at his ‘gaushala’ in Rajpur village under Dhamdha police station limits.
Conflicting Reports About Number of Dead Cows
The main opposition Congress has, however, alleged that around 300 cows have died in Verma’s shelter home in the past three days.
“According to local villagers, around 300 cows have died of starvation and lack proper care as they were not fed properly in the 'gaushala',” state Congress spokesperson RP Singh said and demanded a high-level probe into the matter.
Even reports in Hindustan Times and Times of India on Friday evening quoted local villagers as saying that the number of dead cows is well above 200. They also claimed that the cows died out of starvation and lack of medicines.
According to a report by Indian Express, veterinary doctors claim they have conducted 27 post mortems in the two days. On Friday, The Indian Express also came across 30 fresh carcasses strewn all over the gaushala. Residents have told them they first noticed “something wrong” on Wednesday evening, when they spotted JCBs digging trenches, and tractors taking away carcasses.
(With inputs from PTI)
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