The Chhattisgarh government on Monday ordered an inquiry by retired district judge AK Samant Ray into the death of more than 300 cows in shelters run by a Bharatiya Janata Party leader Harish Verma, The Hindustan Times reported.

Ray will investigate into the cause of the deaths as well as the functioning of the cow shelters. Police said more than 300 cows have died of starvation in Verma’s three cow shelters – 200 in a facility at Rajpur village in Durg district, and 90 more at shelters in Godmarra and Rano villages in Bemetara district. All the shelters ran with funds from the Gau Sewa Ayog, the state’s department for bovine welfare. The judicial probe is set to also probe how these funds were used.

In its police complaint, the department alleged that Verma sold dead cattle to butchers. On August 19, Verma, the vice-president of the Jamul municipality in Durg, was arrested for the deaths. He had claimed that the bovines died due to the collapse of a boundary wall on August 15. Initial reports had confirmed only about 27 dead cattle, but the numbers increased later, police said. Villagers had accused Verma of burying many carcasses or disposing them of in other ways.