Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat has said that the cow is the only animal that inhales as well as exhales oxygen, The Times of India reported on Friday. One can cure breathing problems by massaging a cow, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader said.

Rawat made these comments while speaking at a function in Dehradun a few days ago. It is unclear when he made the remarks.

In a video of his statement, Rawat reportedly asserted that a cow is called “mata” or mother because it gives oxygen to humans. “Cow dung and gau-mutra (cow urine) is also extremely good for the entire body, including the heart and kidney,” Rawat was quoted as saying by The Times of India. “One can be cured of TB [tuberculosis] if he or she is near a cow. Our scientists are now certifying these facts.”

An unidentified official at the chief minister’s office defended Rawat’s comment and said he stated something that is a common belief in Uttarakhand. “An ailing person has a quick recovery when he or she is close to a cow,” the official told The Times of India.

The official said people are making this an issue as they are against the chief minister. “Studies and experiments have proved the medical properties of cow urine. Since time immemorial, cows and humans have shared a strong bond...,” he added.

This came days after Bharatiya Janata Party state president and Nainital MP Ajay Bhatt said that pregnant women can avoid caesarean deliveries if they drink water of Garud Ganga, a river in Bageshwar district.

In April, BJP leader Pragya Singh Thakur, who was later elected MP, also claimed that cow urine had helped her cure cancer and rubbing a cow in a certain way can help one control their blood pressure.

Last year in September, the Uttarakhand Assembly had recommended declaring the cow as the mother of the nation. Rekha Arya, minister of animal husbandry, had proposed the resolution. She had claimed that the cow was the “only animal that not only inhales oxygen, but also exhales it”, and had also highlighted the “medicinal qualities” of cow urine.

In January 2017, Vasudev Devnani, former education minister in the BJP government in Rajasthan, had made the same claim that the cow was the only animal that inhaled and exhaled oxygen.