Deaths in Chhattisgarh cow shelters: Nine officials suspended, ink thrown at BJP leader
The Chhattisgarh government on Saturday suspended nine officials, including two deputy directors of the animal husbandry department, after 290 cows were found dead in three shelters run by a leader of the state’s ruling BJP.
The officials were suspended and issued show-cause notices for “dereliction of duty,” said a government source without elaborating further.
The government took the action after a report on the deaths was submitted by agriculture director SK Pandey.
The bovine deaths over the past two days, due to starvation and lack of proper care, triggered a statewide protest.
A group of youth Congress workers earlier in the day smeared ink on the face of the BJP leader, Harish Verma, when he was produced before a district court in Durg in a case over the deaths. Police later detained several youth Congress workers over the incident.
Verma was arrested on Friday after about 200 bovines died in one of his cow shelters in the state’s Durg district. Ninety more cow carcasses were found by a team of veterinary doctors on Saturday at two other shelters he runs in Godmarra and Rano villages in the neighbouring Bemetara district.
The deaths gave a tool to the opposition parties to target the BJP. Fringe elements of the party are often being accused of attacking, even lynching, cattle traders on the suspicion of transporting cows for slaughter. Cows are considered holy by many Hindus.
The arrested BJP leader is accused of siphoning of Rs 1.65 crore given to three cow shelters run by him. Verma, however, blamed the state government for the deaths, saying the Chhattisgarh Gaw Seva Ayog failed to release pending funds to provide fodder to ailing animals.
Among the animal husbandry department officials put under suspension are Durg district deputy director Dr AK Chawala and Bemetra deputy director Dr AK Singh.