Gwalior: As many as 17 cattle, including eight cows, were found dead due to alleged starvation after they were locked inside an abandoned government school building in Dabra tehsil of Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh.
Taking strong note of the incident, state Animal Husbandry Minister Lakhan Singh has ordered a probe, describing the incident as highly insensitive and inhuman. It is not clear who locked these animals inside the building without food and water.
Local residents suspect that a farmer, hassled with the persistent intrusion of cattle inside his farm, may have locked the cattle inside the schoolroom.
The police registered a case against unidentified persons after the incident at the government school at Samudan village, about 50 km from the district headquarters, came to light on Wednesday, an official said. The police also arrested the driver of JCB machine that was used to bury the carcasses.
"We received information about the dead cows being buried in the school's ground. On reaching there, we exhumed the carcasses of 17 cattle — eight cows and nine oxen — and cremated them after conducting a post-mortem," Dabra's Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Raghvendra Pandey said.
"There are four government offices inside the school premises and their employees have also been served notices. Directions have been issued to take criminal and departmental action against the employees if they are found guilty," he said.
Chief Minister Kamal Nath expressed grief over the incident and said an "impartial inquiry" has been ordered. "Strict action will be taken against the guilty after the inquiry. We are committed to the protection of cows. Such incidents will not be tolerated," Nath said in a tweet in Hindi.
ग्वालियर के डबरा के समूदन में 17 गायों की मृत्यु की ख़बर बेहद दुखद।इस घटना की निष्पक्ष जाँच के निर्देश।जाँच में जिसका दोष सामने आये , उस पर कड़ी कार्यवाही हो।हम गौमाता की रक्षा व संवर्धन के लिये निरंतर प्रयासरत व बचनबद्ध।ऐसी घटनाएँ बर्दाश्त नहीं की जा सकती है।— Office Of Kamal Nath (@OfficeOfKNath) October 17, 2019
According to the police, the animals were under lockdown for around a week. The locals came upon the carcasses after a foul smell started emanating from the school premises.
As the matter came to light, the panicked local administration started burying the animals. However, 'gau rakshaks' (cow vigilantes) as well as activists of right-wing organisations reached the spot and created a ruckus. The administration later assured them of a probe into the matter.
Bajrang Dal leader Manoj Rajak claimed the cows were allegedly locked in a room at the school about a week ago. "Unidentified villagers had locked stray cattle in a room at the school about a week ago. Villagers got to know about their death when foul odour started emanating in the area," he claimed.
When they got to know about the deaths, Bajrang Dal workers reached the school on Wednesday and found that villagers had dug up a pit and buried them, he said, adding that the SDM was informed about this after it.
BJP national vice-president and former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the cattle deaths could have been averted.
"The Congress had promised to set up 'gaushalas' (cow shelters) in its manifesto. The incident could have been averted if the local authorities had taken them to a gaushala. Killing cows is a sin. The government should take steps to avoid such incidents in the future," Chouhan said.