Over 70 cows died due to suspected food poisoning in a shelter attached to a temple in Haryana's Panchkula on Wednesday, officials said.
Thirty other cows, who were also taken ill at the Mata Mansa Devi Gaudham, are responding to treatment, an official of Haryana's Animal Husbandry and Dairying Department told reporters in Panchkula.
"We have collected water and feed samples and we can only arrive at any conclusion when we receive the test report... but prima facie, it looks like a case of food poisoning," he said.
The General Manager (honorary) of the cow shelter, Ravinder Chihgal, said that vets were called on Tuesday evening when he came to know that some cows had fallen ill.
"The reports I have got is that the cows died due to food poisoning. But one thing which is clear that food poisoning was not due to the fodder we gave them.
"We suspect that some devotee who visited the temple was carrying some foodstuff which he gave to the cows causing food poisoning," Mr Chihgal told PTI over phone.
Mr Chihgal, who is currently out of station, said the cows which died were from two particular sheds.
"We have a total of seven sheds in which nearly 1,400 cows are kept. Fatalities have been reported only in two sheds."
"Had there been food poisoning due to fodder, deaths would have been much higher," he said.
Haryana Assembly Speaker Gian Chand Gupta, who is an MLA of the ruling BJP from Panchkula, visited the cow shelter and said he was deeply saddened by the incident.
"We will get an inquiry done to find out if there were any lapses which led to this incident... and taking a lesson from this, we will ensure that such incidents do not happen in future.
"Whatever precautions are needed, we will ensure they are taken in other gaushalas (cow shelter) also," Mr Gupta told reporters.