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Congress demands probe on mass deaths of cows in Bhopal shelter

Vet directorate institutes probe; carcasses found not related to shelter, says DD

bhopal cow

Allegations that hundreds of cows in Jeev Daya Gaushala (cow shelter) on the outskirts of Madhya Pradesh's capital Bhopal have died over the past few months, and their skin and bones have been traded, has caused a huge uproar.

A Congress team led by media department vice-chairman Bhupendra Gupta visited the spot on Tuesday and demanded that the government conduct a raid at the shelter and take stringent action against those responsible. They alleged that the shelter has the protection of a BJP leader and warned of agitation if early action was not taken.

The Congress also reminded the government that despite a huge uproar, no action was taken against the management of a cow shelter run by a BJP leader (Nirmala Devi Shandilya), where over 100 cows were found dead in January 2022.

Karni Sena members also demonstrated at the Jeev Daya shelter, demanding action.

There are allegations that skeletons and carcasses of hundreds of cows were found some distance away from the Jeev Daya shelter with indications that skin and bones were being harvested for trade purposes. There are also allegations that there is a huge mismatch in figures of the cows sent by the Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) to this shelter and the number of cows now present there.

“The state directorate of veterinary sciences has instituted a probe into the allegations,” Deputy Director Dr. Ajay Ramteke told The Week. He said that the records of the shelter from January 2022 will be checked in detail to find out the number of cows received per month and the number available at the end of each month.

He said that there seems to be some confusion regarding the numbers as some media reports quoting a right to information (RTI) document from BMC claimed that nearly 2,500 cows were sent here in the year 2022, and therefore the total number of cows here should have been over 4,000 but, only 1,950 were present now. 

However, the total capacity of the shelter is just 2,000 and it was unlikely that the BMC would have sent 2,500 during a year. The figure provided by BMC (of about 2,500 cows) seemed to be the overall figure of cows sent to all 34 shelters in the city. 

“We have asked for a detailed report from the BMC in this regard,” Dr. Ramteke said.

Also, the usage of the grants allocated to the shelter by the government will be probed, the officer said, adding that the shelter got a grant of Rs 69 lakh in 2021-22 and another Rs 34 lakh in 2022-23. He said that while this grant was not enough for the maintenance of the shelter and the cattle, the shelter has other provisions for income generation like facility for silage making, biogas plant and fertilizer making.

He said that during a visit, his team found general mismanagement in the shelter including sludge and cow dung heaps in some sheds and moss lining up the drinking water tubs and these points will also be considered in the probe.

However, the deputy director said that the carcasses reportedly were found about 1.5 km away and not linked to the shelter. Rather, the reported area was a skin and bone harvesting site for a contractor who had a proper license for this work from the Bhopal Municipal Corporation. 

Sources however said that the Jeev Daya authorities might have allowed this contractor to illegally take away dead cows from the shelter to this harvesting site in lieu of financial benefits. They should have instead followed the standard operating procedure (SOP) regarding disposal of the carcasses by burying them to turn them into fertiliser. Dr. Ramteke said it will be probed whether this SOP was followed or not.

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