A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader has been arrested in Chhattisgarh a day after nearly 200 cows died at a bovine shelter, being managed by him, allegedly due to starvation and lack of medicines in Dhamdha block of Durg district. Though Chhattisgarh animal husbandry department's Gau Seva Aayog confirmed the death of 30 cows, local villagers claimed that the numbers were much more as carcasses of other dead cows were disposed off by burying them in deep ditch.
The BJP leader, Harish Verma, who is also the vice president of Jamul Nagar Nigam, has been running the shelter for last seven years.
"He was arrested on Friday evening after being charged under sections 4 and 6 of Chhattisgarh Agricultural Cattle Preservation act -2004, Section 11 of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 and Section 409 of Indian Penal Code (IPC),” police said.
"We noticed JCB machines operating near the cow shelter two days ago and we informed some media persons. When we reached here, we found that many trenches were being dug to bury the dead cows lying on the ground. They were at least 200 in number,” said Seva Ram Sahu, the Rajpur Sarpanch’s husband.
Further, Dhamda block sub-divisional magistrate Rajesh Patre, after visiting the cow shelter confirmed the deaths and said that the cows died either due to starvation or lack of proper care.
"A four-member team led by deputy director of animal husbandry was constituted to probe into the causes of death and the reports of post-mortem. We have done post mortem for the cows, reports are awaited but prima facie it seems proper care of the cows was not taken. The exact death figures are yet to ascertained and investigation was on".
"Villagers claimed that more than 200 cows died in last few days because of lack of fodder, which seems to be true. We will submit a detailed report to the district magistrate and action would be taken accordingly," he said.
Meanwhile, Verma claimed that the cows died after the boundary wall of his gaushala crashed on them.
"On August 15, several cows were injured in the Gaushala after the boundary wall collapsed due to heavy rains. Thereafter, 26 of them succumbed to injuries while treatment of some other cows is underway,” he said.
Verma alleged that he was not receiving the grant from the Gau Sewa Ayog even after repeated requests.