Those who adopt stray cows will be felicitated on Republic Day and Independence Day, the Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government in Rajasthan has said in an order issued in December, right after it came to power.
The Indian Express quoted a government direction to district collectors as saying, “Those charitable and sensitive citizens, who have adopted stray cows, will be felicitated at the state level by the district collector on Independence/ Republic Day.”
The report suggested that district collectors have also been asked to motivate people into adopting stray cattle.
The Indian Express report said that according to the government these adopted cows can either be kept at a gaushala (cow shelter) or at home. The government has said that this was to increase incomes of cow shelters and to ensure the stray animals are taken care of.
While the former BJP government had introduced several measures for cow protection, this order by the Congress government shows its plan for the future of cows in Rajasthan.
The Congress had promised better facilities for stray cows in its poll manifesto.
Rajasthan also boasts of having a cow minister, a position first introduced by the BJP government. While Otaram Devasi was the cow minister under the BJP government, Pramod Bhaya hold the position in the Congress government.
Cows had been given a lot of importance even under the state BJP government, which the Congress government is looking to continue.
In July 2018, the BJP government had allotted land to a private trust for the first cow sanctuary of the country in Bikaner’s Napasar. The land, reports had said, would be able to house 10,000 cows.
In June, 2018 the government had suggested a cow safari as well. The state had planned to let people stay at the Hingonia Gaushala near Jaipur. This move was apparently to educate people about cows.
States across the Hindi heartland, especially Uttar Pradesh, are facing the brunt of the government’s hasty decision to stop ‘illegal slaughtering’ without making alternative arrangements. Abandoned cows and buffaloes are damaging crops, causing massive losses to farmers.
Rajasthan is also among the states that has also seen cow vigilantes go on a rampage in the past couple of years, often killing people in the name of checking cow slaughter. In one of his first interviews after taking charge as deputy CM, Congress leader Sachin Pilot had told HuffPost India that the “atmosphere of mob lynching and cow vigilantism has to be curbed immediately”.
And even as the Congress government looks to fulfil its poll promise on cows, most accused in the vigilante mob cases have not been punished.