Bilaspur, July 25: Locked inside a small room in a village panchayat building, at least 45 cows died due to suffocation in Chhattisgarh's Bilaspur district, a senior official said on Saturday. The district administration has constituted a committee headed by an additional collector to conduct an inquiry while the police have also registered a First Investigation Report (FIR), he said. Also Read | Kanpur SSP Among 15 IPS Officers of UP Police Transferred: Live News Breaking And Coronavirus Updates on July 25, 2020.

The deaths at Medpar village under Takhatpur development block came to light on Saturday morning when locals noticed foul smell coming from the room where cows had been kept, said Bilaspur Collector Saransh Mittar. In all, 60 cows were locked in a room in the old panchayat building, he said. Also Read | Devendra Fadnavis Urges Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray to Increase COVID-19 Testing in Mumbai, Warns of 'Bigger Spread' in the Metropolis.

It was not yet known why the cows had been kept there. By the time district officials and veterinary doctors reached the spot, 43 cows were dead while two died later, he said. Autopsies revealed that the cause of death was suffocation, Mittar said, adding that remaining 15 cows are being treated.

A committee headed by Bilaspur Additional Collector has been set up to probe the incident and stern action will be taken against those responsible, he said. On the complaint of the district administration, police registered an FIR under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and IPC section 429 (mischief by killing or maiming cattle), the collector said.

Describing the incident as "unfortunate", Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel directed the Bilaspur collector to take action against those responsible, an official statement here said. Opposition BJP blamed the ruling Congress for the deaths of cows and alleged that all welfare schemes for cattle are only on paper.

"The Congress government which made huge propaganda for the Suraaji Gaon Scheme, failed to make proper arrangements for its effective implementation," said state BJP chief Vishnudeo Sai.

"All welfare schemes for cows including Narwa-Garuwa- Ghurwa-Badi, Godhan Nyay Yojna and Roka Cheka Yojna are running well on paper but have no visibility on the ground. This has exposed the state government's anti-agriculture character," he alleged.

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