Hundreds of cows have reportedly died at the biggest cow shelter in the western Indian state of Rajasthan. This come after 200 caretakers who are responsible for feeding the animals went on a strike due to non payment of their salaries. The state, which is governed by the central ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has come under sharp criticism for failing to provide adequate arrangements to protect the animals.
At least 90 cows have died in the past two days at Hingonia Cow Rehabilitation centre, broadcaster India Today quoted a veterinarian as saying. The developments have left many Indians and activists voicing their anger on the social media platforms, asking if this is how "we treat our mother".
"Twenty cows are dying on an average every day," veterinarian Arvind Yadav said. "Those you see still alive will also pass in a day or two. They have been starving in the slosh. What can I do?" he asked while blaming the administration for the situation.
However, the Rajasthan government said that the cows' death did not occur due to carelessness of the shelter home. Kunji Lal Meena said late on Thursday night (4 August) the government was taking all efforts to make sure that proper arrangements were in place in the centre where some animals have died in the past few days.
According to him, some of those cows were already sick. He said that there were 8,000 bovine animals in the shelter home and a team of 14 veterinarians and 24 assistants were taking care of them. He also denied claims of carelessness involved in feeding food, water and fodder to the animals. But India Today reported that when it investigated the centre, it found only one veterinarian doctor present there.
Meena added that a special campaign was launched recently to capture stray animals, which led to the inflow of animals at the centre to increase. "1,228 bovine animals were captured from 15 to 31 July and most of them were suffering from malnutrition and were sick," he added.
In 2015, Rajasthan became the first Indian state to have a separate department and a minister in charge for the welfare of cows.
Cows are worshipped as a holy animal in Hinduism and slaughtering of it has always been a controversial taboo in India. In recent times, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party, BJP, has also been criticised of pushing for laws that bans beef eating, which has resulted in major uproar amongst other religious groups.
The deaths of these cows in Rajasthan's capital city of Jaipur were reported to be the result of starvation as their caretakers abandoned them for almost two weeks. Even the other cows those are alive are believed to be in an appalling condition, with some limping around in muddy slush with bleeding wounds.