Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya introduced an exclusive ambulance service for cows on Monday, the latest among a slew of protective measures for the bovine species in the state.
Just hours later, video footage surfaced of a man in Etawah, in another part of Uttar Pradesh. The video showed him carrying his 15-year-old son's dead body on his shoulders for the lack of an ambulance. The contrast between the two reports could not have been starker.
According to The Hindu, “Gauvansh Chikitsa Mobile Vans” were rolled out to ferry ailing or injured cows to cow shelters and veterinary homes for treatment. To service would initially operate in Allahabad, Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Mathura and Varanasi, in collaboration with the “MNREGA Mazdoor Kalyan Sanghathan,” an organisation that works with farmers and labourers in the informal sector.
The organisation also threatened to take severe actions against those who abandon cows after they stop giving milk and against municipal workers, in case the animals are forced to eat plastic off the streets.
Since Yogi Adityanath took over as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, special care is being taken for the protection of cows. In the first few days of taking office, Adityanath enforced a strict diktat against beef consumption and ordered a crackdown on illegal slaughter-houses in the state. The new CM's fondness for his own cows, which have moved to his Lucknow residence from Gorakhpur, is well known.
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The ambulance service for cow is, however, not unique. In 2015, a Jharkhand-based industrialist-cum-social worker donated 10 ambulances for indisposed cows. In a state with roughly a hospital for every one lakh people, his magnanimity may seem misplaced. In Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, the case of the labourer carrying his dead son on his shoulder exposes the apathy of the healthcare system. But his predicament is part of a long list of such incidents.
Meanwhile, on the same day a man was forced to carry the body of his 15-year-old son over his shoulder after he was denied help by doctors at a government hospital. The incident brought back memories of Odisha's Dana Majhi, who carried his dead wife on his back last year when he was allegedly denied a hearse by a hospital.
In a video which went viral on social and electronic media, 45-year-old Udayveer alleged that doctors at the Etawah government hospital did not treat his son Pushpendra and turned him away.
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"My son just had a pain in his legs. The doctors spared only a few minutes to see my child and said take him away, there is no life in the boy," a weeping Udayveer told reporters here. He alleged that the doctors did not offer the services of a hearse or an ambulance, which are meant to be provided free of charge.
In August last year, the nation was shocked by the image of Odisha farmer Majhi walking with his wife's body because there was no hearse available at the hospital. His young daughter, with tears streaming down her face, walked with him.