In what could spell more trouble for the Narendra Modi government, a member of the Animal Welfare Board of India, has now accused the government of “double standards” over its commitment to protect cows. Earlier in the week, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Hindu Mahasabha had already criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks on ‘false cow vigilantes.’
Board member NG Jayasimha cited a letter sent to 3,500 ‘gaushalas’ (cow pens) where he alleged that the government was cutting down the financial grant for upkeep of cows and prevention of cattle-smuggling. According to Mail Today, Jayasimha said, “The government has only made political capital out of the issue of cow protection while in reality it has only encouraged elements who pretend to be ‘gaurakshakhs.’ The letter will further add to NDA government’s embarrassment as it is already embroiled in a lot of controversy over the recent surge in violence by self styled ‘cow vigilantes.’ Especially after the Una incident where four Dalit youths were flogged for skinning a dead cow, this issue has hogged international limelight.
Animal Welfare Board is a statuary body under the Ministry of Forests and Environment and it comprises 28 members who are nominated by the Centre for three years. Jayasimha is due to retire from the board in February 2017.
“We hoped that the BJP government will give special priority to the conservation of cows, and special assistance to gaushalas committed towards saving old and stray cows from falling victim to butchers. But the government has been working in the opposite direction,” the letter said.The letter reveals that the total financial grant to the board was ₹1,200.74 crore in 2014-15 and was reduced to ₹784.85 crore for the year 2015-16. The monetary support to the board had been on the decline under UPA rule too as in 2011-12 the grants was ₹2,177.58 crore and was reduced to ₹1,606.43 crore in 2012-13. About 90% of the financial aid given to the board is used in the upkeep and construction of ‘gaushalas’ across the country, and Jayasimha said that “we had hoped that after Modi government came to power, there will be a change, but we are disappointed.”
Speaking about the failure of the government Jayasimha further adds in his letter, “We hoped that the BJP government will give special priority to the conservation of cows, and special assistance to gaushalas committed towards saving old and stray cows from falling victim to butchers. But the government has been working in the opposite direction.” He also attacked Narendra Modi’s recent address to ‘cow-vigilantes’ and said, “lakhs of cows are being sold to butchers daily, while ‘gaushala’ representatives are being given false promises at national symposiums”.
The government has reacted strongly to such step and the Environment ministry officials have said that this step was “inappropriate” and they had erred by going behind the government’s back and writing to gaushalas directly. As reported by Mail Today, a high-ranking ministry official said, “This is not done on part of the board. We will initiate action against the member and issue show-cause notice to him and the board very soon.”
Adding to the issue, Ashok Thakur, the government nominee in the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED), has demanded action against Jayasimha for trying to portray the BJP regime as “anticow”.
In a letter to Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave, Thakur rubbished the figures cited by Jayasimha, and asked as to why the AWBI member had chosen to write directly to gaushalas and not the government.