KATHMANDU, Sep1: Following a public outcry, the government has formed a committee to probe the curious death of 35 cows apparently after falling from cliffs in Surkhet district on Friday. Cows are worshiped as sacred animals by the dominating Hindu community in the country.
Three dozen cows and bulls were found dead and several others injured after Dailekh bound trucks transporting 370 of the animals reportedly pushed them off the cliffs midway. Police have detained five trucks used for transporting the livestock, and their drivers, following media reports.
Nepalgunj Sub-Metropolitan City had decided to relocate some of the cows from a shelter for abandoned livestock to the hill district of Dailakh so that they could gaze on barren public land. The local government had been hard-pressed to look after the cows and feed them.
Mayor Dhawal SJB Rana came under flak from the general public, animal rights campaigners and his political opponents after cows in their shelters started to starve for lack of adequate fodder.
The city had set up the sheds for the stray cattle after many of them started entering Nepal from India across the open border. But the authorities couldn't afford the upkeep of the nearly 2,000 bovines in the city. The municipality had been facing further pressure to manage the ubiquitous strays after a local resident was killed in an accident in which a scooter hit a cow.
To minimize the problem, an executive officer of the municipality had come up with the idea of moving the cows to his home district of Dailekh, where they could graze the barren fields. Mayor Rana agreed and the municipality made the necessary arrangements.
But the trucking company, Chitwan Carrier, reportedly started disposing of some of the cows midway in Surkhet. “We recovered 24 cows, bull and calves on Friday and the number has now reached 35,” said Yamlal Giri, chief of the monitoring section at Birendranagar Municipality in Surkhet district.
Nepalgunj authorities turned back 189 cows Friday night and these have now become stranded in Birendranagar. Meanwhile, protests have erupted in Surkhet, accusing Nepalgunj Sub-Metropolitan City of killing the cows. Locals and stakeholders in Nepalgunj have demanded an independent probe.
Questions are being asked why the cows were transported during the night. Mayor Rana for his part said that they decided to relocate the cows for their own well being as they were starting to die in their shelters from the excessive heat. “We decided to shift the cows to Dailekh out of good intentions. But some of them died in the trucks and these were dumped off the roadside,” he said when contacted by phone.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs has jumped into the picture and formed a four-member committee under an undersecretary at the ministry, Sagarmani Pathak on Saturday. According to a statement issued by Joint Secretary Ramkrishna Subedi, representatives of the security agencies will be included in the committee, which is to come up with its report within 15 days.
The Home Ministry has said that anyone involved in the killing of cows will be punished under existing law.