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Cow shelters established by Yogi govt causing animal deaths: FIR sought against CM

By Rosamma Thomas* 

A calf was found dead in Bharawan village of Hardoi district in Uttar Pradesh on August 7. A team of members of the Socialist Party (India) has toured parts of the state and found cows in cow shelters set up by the state government in moribund state, close to death and poorly fed, since many of these shelters run with little or no government funds. 
The cow shelters were established by the Yogi Adityanath government to prevent illegal slaughter of animals; they have, instead, become a cause of death to the animals, the inspectors found. The team also found crows attacking weak cows and attempting to strip them of flesh. This has to be described as murder, the team noted in a press release circulated after the inspection tour on September 6, 2023. Similar case of gross neglect was noted also in Gondla Mau village in Sitapur.
Letters have been sent to police stations in Hardoi and Sitapur seeking that an FIR be lodged against the chief minister over this neglect of cows in cow shelters. No FIR had yet been filed, at the time this report was written. Magsaysay award winning social activist and academic Sandeep Pandey, who is general secretary of the Socialist Party (India), said teams would pursue the matter, to ensure FIRs are lodged.
In its press release, the political party noted that villagers had protested Sandila village of Hardoi district in January this year, as animals had become a menace and there was no one taking care of them. The authorities brought in a JCB, cleared an area and fenced it off to declare it a revived gau shala. The last time a gau shala was set up here, villagers said no money was released for feed – the cows chewed on the tarpaulin sheet meant to serve as their roof and died. 
In the first few days after the cow shelter was initially set up, the gram pradhan would spend money on it himself, since he was under pressure by local people. Once the pressure lifted, even arranging for food for the animals became hard. As the number of animals steadily increased, the ability to care for them declined. Authorities had to be pressured even to remove carcasses; there are no veterinarians to treat sick animals.
In March 2023, the villagers of Hindora in Sitapur district took out a march, demanding that stray cows be marched right up to the home of CM Yogi Adityanath in state capital Lucknow, about 80 km away. Although police stopped the marchers, no solution was found to the problem as no authorities heeded the protesters. Under pressure from police, the gram pradhan began construction of a cow shelter, but work halted in just one day and there is no progress visible at the spot.
There was a hunger strike in Pipri Narayanpur, Hardoi district, seeking a proper cow shelter. Some people sat in protest even around Independence Day, 2023. Although assurances were offered at the time, work has not begun yet.
On August 25, 2023, the Socialist Party (India) team inspected the Kanha Cow Shelter at Sandila in Hardoi, built at a cost of Rs 1.2 lakh and spread over two acres. There were over 300 animals. Nine staff members worked at the shelter. Only dry fodder was available for the animals. Many of the cows seemed weak, not far from death. The team visited other cow shelters too, and found even those receiving funds from the government lacking in proper facilities for the animals.
The team demanded:
1. Proper fund allocation for all cow shelters
2. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme should be used to provide work to villagers to grow fodder for the cows
3. The cow shelters should be open to the general public for inspection, to ensure basic standards are met and there is transparency in the working of these shelters
4. Animals that are sick should be transported to hospitals; shelter staff are often ill equipped and unable to handle sick animals
5. Gram pradhans should be allowed to use their own imagination in how to arrange for fodder – they should be supported with government funds and not restricted by centralized schemes of fodder procurement.
---
*Freelance journalist

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