Bilaspur: Fourteen cows and a bull were found dead in a state-run shelter in Chhattisgarh's Bilaspur district, with officials suspecting starvation and pneumonia as likely causes.
The local BJP MLA, however, has put the number of deaths at 22 and accused the Congress government of mismanaging such shelters.
The animals were found dead on Thursday at the daycare shelter for the cattle in Loharsi village in Masturi development block, said Dr RK Sonwade, Joint Director of the Bilaspur Veterinary Services, on Saturday.
"Postmortem carried out on Friday revealed starvation as primary cause of deaths. All the animals were old as well," he said.
Bilaspur district panchayat chief executive officer (CEO) Ritesh Agrawal said an FIR has been lodged under section 429 (mischief by killing or maiming cattle) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) at Pachpedi police station against unidentified people on Friday.
Agrawal denied that all the cattle died of starvation. He said pneumonia was the cause for some of the deaths since it had been raining heavily in the area for the past two days.
The CEO further said the deceased cattle were left in the shelter permanently by residents of nearby villages. The shelter houses 125 such animals, he added.
"The day-shelter was set up over an area of ten acres in Loharsi under a government plan and housed 2400 bovines," he said, adding that the owners used to take the cattle home during evening.
Masturi BJP MLA Krishnamurti Bandhi blamed the state government for "mismanagement" of state-run shelters.
"There was lack of fodder as well... A total of 22 cattle died," he claimed.