[Representational image]Creative Commons

The Rajashtan High Court has reportedly asked the state government to push the Central government to make cow the national animal of the country. It has also recommended that people found guilty of cow slaughter should be awarded the life term. 

Rajasthan is the state where a Muslim man named Pehlu Khan was killed by "gau rakshaks" — self-styled cow vigilantes who act in the name of cow protection — while ferrying cattle along with some acquaintances. The accused in the case ended up being lauded by fellow cow vigilantes. Rajasthan is also the only state in the country that has a Ministry for Cow Protection. 

The recommendations were made by Rajasthan HC Chief Justice Mahesh Chand Sharma on the day before his retirement on Wednesday, May 31. They come close on the heels of the Madras High Court putting a four-week stay on a Central government order that banned that sale of cows for the purpose of slaughter. It had been seen as a de-facto ban on cattle meat. The Kerala government has already said it will challenge the order in court — a step seconded by many other leaders across the country. 

Cow, cow slaughter, cattle slaughter, beef ban
Men load a cow onto a truck in the Jantar Mantar area of New Delhi (Representational image)Reuters/Cathal McNaughton

The Rajasthan HC order pertains to the case of the financial irregularities at the Hingonia Cow Rehabilitation Centre, popularly known as the Hingonia Goshala or the Hingonia Gaushala. It is located in the state capital of Jaipur. 

Mismanagement at the shelter had led to the death of more than 8,000 cows in the January-August period last year, forcing the state government to change the management there. There have also been reports of a fodder scam at the shelter, with purchases taking place even for those cows that have died.