Thousands of cows have been released on the streets of Gujarat by charitable trusts and cattle pounds to protest against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government, The Indian Express reported on Monday.
The protestors said that the state government has not released Rs 500 crore allocated to them in the budget for running cow shelters. They have also called for a boycott of the saffron party in the upcoming Assembly elections.
Videos shared on social media showed cattle roaming the streets of several districts of Gujarat such as Banaskantha and Patan. In some places, they were left in the premises of government buildings, according to The Indian Express.
According to IANS, there are 1,500 cow shelters in Gujarat, which house around 4.5 lakh cows. Out of these, 170 shelters with 80,000 cows are in Banaskantha alone.
The managers of such shelters, which mostly house sick cattle or those past the milking age, say that it is not viable for them to house the cattle without financial assistance from the government, according to India Today.
The Gujarat Gau Seva Sangh, an association of several cow shelters, said they feel cheated by the government. It also alleged that 70 persons were detained by the police briefly over the protests.
“Despite promises made by the state government, the CM [Bhupendra Patel] and several ministers, not a single paisa has been released till date,” Vipul Mali, the general secretary of the Gujarat Gau Seva Sangh, told The Indian Express. “Donations have declined as people tell us why we need them when the government is giving Rs 500 crore.”
Mali also warned that a Gau Adhikar Yatra will be taken across the state if the government fails to meet their demand by September 30.
Gujarat’s Minister of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Cow Breeding Raghavji Patel claimed that the government could not release the money due to “administrative tangles”.
“The CM sincerely wants that the issue should be resolved soon,” Patel said. “There will be a positive solution in a day or two.”
The protests coincide with the raging lumpy skin disease in Gujarat, which is among the worst affected state in the country.
Lumpy skin disease is a contagious virus that spreads among cattle through mosquitoes, flies, lice and wasps along with contaminated food and water. The disease causes fever and nodules on the skin.
According to the data provided by the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, the disease has killed 97,435 cattle in the country.