Judicial probe ordered into cow deaths at shelters run by BJP leader

The Chhattisgarh government has ordered a judicial inquiry into the death of more than 300 cows in the cow shelters run by a BJP leader.

A one-man judicial commission headed by retired district judge AK Samant Ray will probe how and why the cattle deaths took place in the three cow shelters operated by BJP leader Harish Verma, according to a Hindustan Times report.

The commission will also inquire into various aspects of the functioning of the cow shelters, including how government grants were utilised.

“More than 300 cows perished due to starvation and ill-health in the three cow shelters owned by Verma in Durg and Bemetara districts of Chhattisgarh. Verma, who is in police custody, has been charged under various sections of the laws dealing with cattle preservation and prevention of cruelty to animals, as well as the Indian Penal Code,” the report says.

In its complaint to the police, the state’s Gau Sewa Ayog (the department for bovine welfare) had alleged that Verma routinely sold dead cattle to butchers and traded in their skin and bones.

Verma, who was suspended by the BJP after his arrest on August 18, ran the Shagun Goshala (cow shelter) in Durg district while his wife Laxmi Verma operated the Phulchandra Goshala in adjoining Bemetara district and his relative, M Narayanan, was in charge of Mayuri Goshala, also in Bemetara.

All three cow shelters functioned with funding from the Gau Sewa Ayog.

Verma, vice-president of the Jamul Nagar Nigam (civic body), came under the scanner after nearly 200 cows died this month at Shagun Goshala in Rajpur village. Officials spotted nearly 40 carcasses, but villagers alleged that many dead cattle had been clandestinely buried or disposed of, said the police.

The Gau Sewa Ayog has alleged that money meat for the cow shelters was diverted by Verma. Police are also looking into allegations that cows were deliberately starved to death. Verma has claimed the cows at his Shagun Goshala died in a wall collapse.

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