Rajasthan, a state in north west India is unique in the world. It’s government has a department and minister for Cow affairs. Establishment of such a ministry was the poll promise of Hindutva party, the BJP. After being elected to power again, the party duly set up a department for Cow affairs and appointed Otaram Devasi as the minister.
Now you may think the story of cows in the state will be that of glory and splendour. Unfortunately it was the opposite.
The anti-corruption bureau initiated an inquiry into alleged dereliction of duty by government officials on Friday, after 500 cows died at a Rajasthan government-run cattle shelter near the state capital over the last two weeks.
The deaths took place at the Jaipur Municipal Corporation’s Hingonia cow rehabilitation centre, located 36 km from the state capital. All the 266 contractual workers at the establishment have been on strike since July 21 because they haven’t been paid their dues for May and June.
Officials said the bovines starved to death after they were caught neck-deep in cow dung and fodder that had turned slushy due to rainwater seepage.
“Bad planning turned the place into a quicksand of sorts. The cows died after being trapped for days on end without food and water,” said Bajrang Singh, additional superintendent of police of the anti-corruption bureau.
He visited the spot with other police officers for conducting a probe after the Rajasthan high court sought an explanation for the deaths from the state government on Thursday. However, in the absence of any aid from the municipal corporation, they ended up rescuing the trapped cattle instead. The officers were helped by volunteers from nearby villages.
The corporation sprung into action only on Friday, deploying heavy duty machines to evacuate the cattle.
Meanwhile, the issue took a political turn with the Congress accusing the BJP-led Rajasthan government of not doing enough to safeguard cattle – despite having a dedicated cow protection department.
Cows are valuable for Hindutva only if they are killed and eaten by people, especially by Muslims or Dalits. Then only they can use them symbolically for hate propaganda. Cows dying of neglect under their own government’s care is a non issue for them.