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173 cows die in a week: 9 officials suspended

Raipur: Nine officials, including two deputy directors, of Chhattisgarh animal husbandry department have been suspended amid allegations that 173 cows have died in about one week at three shelters, one of which is run by a local BJP leader.
Chhattisgarh Rajya Gau Sewa Ayog chairman Bisheshar Patel on Sunday claimed that 52 deaths had taken place at Shagun gaushala in Rajpur village of Durg district, 106 at Phoolchand gaushala and 15 at Mayuri gaushala in Godmarra and Rano villages respectively of Bemetara district.
"173 cows died in three government-aided gaushala (cow shelter) in Durg and Bemetara districts of the state in nearly seven days," Patel claimed.
Taking cognisance, state Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Minister Brijmohan Agrawal has suspended nine officers of the department for "negligence in discharging their duties" and issued a show cause notice to Gau Sewa Aayog's secretary, a government statement said.
Those suspended include the department's deputy directors in Durg and Bemetara and seven veterinarians.
The minister, who is on an official tour of Israel, had sought a report from the animal husbandry director, S K Pandey, on the incident by August 19.
Based on the preliminary finding that indicated grave negligence on the part of these officers, the action was taken, the government statement said.
The minister later also sought a report within three days on the condition of all cow shelters in the state, it said.
Shagun gaushala owner Harish Verma, who belongs to the BJP and holds the post of vice president in Jamul Municipality, was arrested on Friday.
Chhattisgarh Rajya Gau Sewa Ayog had lodged a police complaint alleging lack of proper facilities and management at his facility.
The owners of the two shelters were Verma's relatives, he claimed. The police on Saturday took into custody two office-bearers of Phoolchand guashala and one of Mayuri cow shelter in Bemetara and they were being questioned, an official at Parpodi police station in the district said.
The chairpersons of the two gaushalas were absconding,
he said. According to Patel, lack of management and proper facilities at the cow shelters led to the deaths.
The cattle from these shelters were being shifted to other shelters, he said.
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