Cows die of hunger in Yogi backyard

Hunger has killed 18 cows, three calves and seven oxen over the past fortnight in a privately run cow shelter in Uttar Pradesh after the state government suddenly stopped providing fodder three months ago.

By Piyush Srivastava in Lucknow
  • Published 14.10.17
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Lucknow, Oct. 13: Hunger has killed 18 cows, three calves and seven oxen over the past fortnight in a privately run cow shelter in Uttar Pradesh after the state government suddenly stopped providing fodder three months ago.

The cow deaths at Kakoli village in Faizabad district, 150km east of Lucknow, come at a time the state's BJP government has declared plans to organise Pashu Arogya Melas (cattle health fairs) in every block and panchayat.

"We had written to the district administration and the state veterinary department to resume the fodder supply, expecting the government to be sensitive since chief minister Yogi Adityanath claims to begin his day by worshipping cows. But the relief never came," said one of the half-dozen villagers who run the cow shelter as a sort of social service.

Veterinary department officials told reporters said today on the condition of anonymity that they had stopped the fodder supply after discovering the cow shelter was unregistered, and had therefore ignored its latest appeals for help.

An employee of the cow shelter, asking not to be identified, told local reporters said: "We didn't register the facility simply because the veterinary department never insisted on it while providing us with fodder and medical assistance for 10 years." He said the 370-odd surviving cattle heads - "old, abandoned and stray animals, which are not useful for farming and don't give milk" - too were underfed and there would be more deaths if help didn't arrive fast.

He added that fellow villagers had not been able to provide much assistance, and that at least two cows had died every day for the past five days.

Over a dozen officials, including police circle officer Abha Pandey and local veterinary officer Lalmani Prajapati visited the cow shelter today.

"We have sent a report to our seniors and are waiting for a response before providing help to the cowshed," Prajapati said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated a Pashu Arogya Mela (cattle health fair) in his parliamentary constituency of Varanasi on September 23. He had in his address advised Adityanath to organise such "unique" fairs across the state.

That month-long fair at Shahanshahpur village is still running but no other fair has been held yet.