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Ever since the first Covd-19 induced lockdown last year, a man in Rishikesh has been feeding over 2,000 cows daily.

Jagdish Prasad Bhatt says looking at the plight of animals he had resolved to serve the cows who were left to forage for food in the absence of fodder, given to them by the municipal administeration and local residents. During the lockdown impossed curfew due to difficulty in its transportation the cows did not have fodder .

The Uttarakhand government had on Monday, extended the ongoing ‘Corona curfew’ till 6 am on June 9. The COVID-19 curfew in Uttarakhand was imposed on May 18, after the state reported a significant spike in the number of COVId-19 cases amid the second wave of the pandemic across the country. The curbs were further extended on May 24.
Bhatt said he has volunteered to care for the animals by arranging green fodder for them on a daily basis.

“It has been 1.5 years since I have been serving Gau mata. This began when lockdown was imposed across the country on March 21 in 2020. I started serving cows on March 23 of last year. Our sevices extend from Rishikesh to Dehradun and from there to Pauri. There are 2200 to 2800 cows who we take care of daily,” said Bhatt.

The Rishikesh local said when the lockdown was imposed this year everything was shut, he found that “these gau matas who have been given utmost importance in the Sanatan Dharma, were starving to death.”

“They were getting food neither food nor water. Many died in front of my own eyes. Seeing this I only wanted to save their lives and therefore I began getting them fodder,” said Bhatt.

He stated that earlier these abondoned cows were mostly fed by the municipal administration and sometimes by the owners of domesticated cattle or locals. However, amid curfew, the local authorites stopped feeding them and cow owners reserved the limited fodder stock for their own cattle, he added.

Locals too stopped stepping out of their homes to feed them due to fear of contracting infection. In such circumstances these cows were starving, he further said.

“We bring fresh green fodder from Haridwar for them. The cow carcasses we find are cremated as per Hindu rituals on the banks of the Ganga river, he added.

Bhatt who took voluntary retirement from Punjab Electricity Board said he wakes up at 5 am and after his daily prayers goes to Rishikesh market in his jeep to buy fodder for the animals and then proceeds to go about feeding animal standing on the road.

Bhatt says, aided by an ex-military companion, he manages to feed over 2600 animals daily on an average, adding that he has his meal only after feeding these animals. (ANI)