In Rajasthan CM Raje’s constituency, pay Rs 15,000 annually and adopt a cow

If you are a resident of Jhalawar district in Rajasthan, you can now show your love for cow by forking out Rs 15,000 annually.

State chief minister Vasundhara Raje’s constituency has launched a scheme allowing people to adopt a bovine at one of the 28 licensed cow shelters in Jhalawar, officials have revealed.

Other districts are likely to implement the scheme, officials said.

BJP-ruled Rajasthan has been in the forefront of cow protection in the country, long before Yogi Adityanath launched a crackdown on illegal slaughter houses and smuggling of cattle.

Rajasthan is also the only state to have a minister for cows.

 “At the last meeting of collectors and superintendents of police, the chief minister had said that people in the state already do gau seva (service to cow which implies giving food to cows) but now gau prem (love for cow) should also be inculcated in them,” Jhalawar collector Jitendra Kumar Soni said.

Officials said the move was aimed at taking care of a large stray cow population – mostly cattle disowned by their owners after the bovines are past their prime and are not capable of producing milk or plough the fields.

At least 11 people had adopted a cow each in Jhalawar city, which has an estimated 250 stray cows.

The state has stringent laws preventing cow slaughter and transportation, leaving the government with thousands of cattle to take care of.

The economic burden of running the shelters have often proved to be very high.

Last year in August, more than 500 cattle died at a government-run shelter at Hingonia — 36 km from state capital Japiur – after contractual workers went on a long strike over non-payment of dues.

Earlier in June too, hundreds of bovines starved to death in Kochar village of Sawai Madhopur district due to drought.

Rajasthan has 2,185 registered cow shelters which tend to an estimated 6.68 lakh cows and oxen, according to figures of the state’s Gopalan department.

The last livestock census in 2012 put number of cattle (cows and oxen) at 1.33 crore out of which 1.15 crore are of indigenous species.

The state government last year launched the Bhamashah livestock insurance scheme, which facilitates cattle raisers across the state to insure their cattle on subsidised premium rates.

The zeal to protect cows has, however, also led to bizzare situations.

Earlier this year, the state education and panchayati raj minister Vasudev Devnani said that cow is the only animal that “inhales and exhales oxygen”, a comment which drew criticism for lacking any scientitic basis.

The Udaipur University also said that it is planning to open a centre of excellence for research on cow urine, a pet subject of the BJP.

Self-styled cow vigilante groups have also been active ever since the BJP came to power in the state.

Last week, a cow protection group led by a woman activist laid siege to a Jaipur hotel over beef sale rumours. The hotel was later sealed.

Vigilantes attacking people for transporting bulls have been reported from several places.

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