The Uttar Pradesh government on Monday suspended five officials in Maharajganj district, including the magistrate, because of alleged irregularities in a cow protection programme, PTI reported.

The state’s Chief Secretary RK Tiwari said the officials were suspended for falsifying figures and negligence at a state-run cow shelter. Chief Minister Adityanath has instructed officials to take disciplinary action against the five officers.

Tiwari said there had been “continuous complaints of negligence” in the maintenance of stray cows at the Madhvaliya cow shelter in the district’s Nichlaul tehsil. “Official documents showed the number of cattle as 2,500 but during physical verification only 954 cattle were found,” the bureaucrat said at a press conference. “Besides, it was also found that the officials had given 328 acres out of total 500 acres of land of the cow shelter to farmers, firms and other individuals in an illegal manner.”

The state government had formed an inquiry committee presided by Gorakhpur division’s additional commissioner (administrative). The panel found several discrepancies in the number of cattle during the inquiry, Tiwari said.

The bureaucrat said the officials did not provide satisfactory answers to the inquiry committee. The accused intentionally increased the number of animals at the shelter to misuse public funds, Tiwari alleged.

Along with Maharajganj District Magistrate Amar Nath Upadhyaya, two sub-divisional magistrates, the chief veterinary officer and the deputy chief veterinary officer were suspended, NDTV reported. Upadhyaya has been replaced by bureaucrat Ujjwal Kumar.

In July, Adityanath had suspended eight officials because of deaths of cows at shelters across the state. Three district magistrates were sent show-cause notices. He also warned officials they would face action for negligence under the Govadh Nivaran Adhiniyam, a law to prevent cow slaughter, and the Prevention of Cruelty against Animals Act.

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