Indescribable stench permeates the air at Rajasthan’s biggest cow shelter as the animals, abandoned by their caretakers for almost two weeks, starve to death. As many as 90 cows at the state-run Hingonia shed have already perished in the past two days alone, a veterinarian told India Today.
WORKERS PROTEST NON-PAYMENT OF SALARIES
Two weeks ago, some 225 employees of the shelter went on a strike to protest wage delays. Jaipur’s municipal officials had refused to release their salaries, alleging the company they were outsourced from was blacklisted. The cows are now bearing the brunt of the festering dispute between the shelter employees and the government in Jaipur.
When the India Today crew visited the sloppy compound, they found only one animal doctor present there.
On its staff rolls though, as many as 17 veterinarians are registered. The shelter’s commissioner, Sher Singh, has gone on a leave.
Cows were seen living — and dying — in extreme agony. Many of them are barely in a condition to walk in the muddy slush. For almost a fortnight now, no one has drained the rain water out of their sheds. Revered otherwise above all other animals, they haven’t been fed either at the shelter which is watched over by the state’s BJP government.
In 2010, chief minister Vasundhra Raje had presided over a public oath to protect cows. In the wake of her community pledge, Rajasthan became India’s first state to create a separate department for cows. Its school curriculum also offers special lessons on the sacred animal.
But cows trembling to death from hunger and thirst at the Hingonia shelter belie the tall claims of the state.
HEARTBREAKING DEATHS OF COWS
“Twenty cows are dying on an average every day,” said veterinarian Arvind Yadav. “Those you see still alive will also pass in a day or two. They have been starving in this slosh. What can I do?” said Yadav, blaming the administration for their terrible condition.
At its peak, the Hingonia shelter housed around 8,000 cows.
Workers allege that they have not received their wages for five months now. They struck work to demand salaries.
No one in command of the shelter is taking responsibility for the heartbreaking deaths of its cows.
Harendra Kiwar, the shelter’s deputy commissioner, stated the obvious, attributing the desolation to rains and the two-week worker strike.