Dehradun: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat on Friday refuted media reports which quoted him as saying that those who slaughter cows are the country's "biggest enemies" and they had "no right to live in the country".
"I am deeply hurt on reading such a false and baseless news in the media. We have been talking of progressive thoughts all our life, on secularism and taking everyone along," he told reporters here.
"I said nothing on cow slaughter. I spoke only about the incentives being given towards the conservation of cows and Ganga, and what the state government is doing to link cows with rural economy," he said while referring to an event in Haridwar yesterday where he is supposed to have made the remarks.
"I am a responsible (Congress) party worker with connections and influence in all sections and I can never make such an irresponsible statement," Rawat said.
Media reports yesterday quoted Rawat as having said at an event in Haridwar that those who slaughter cows are the country's "biggest enemies" and that they had "no right to live in the country".
"The so-called news is totally wrong and far from truth... In that Gopashtami function, leave aside Harish Rawat, no one else also used such language there," the Chief Minister said.
He said he had mentioned that there is a law to protect cows and those who made this law stressed on protection and "our government is also linking cow to people's economy".
He added, "We have started Ganga-Cow Yojna. We are the first state in the country which is giving bonus on milk production. I can also think of increasing the bonus for such a dairy where only cows are reared. Any organisation or person coming forward to protect old cows wants land, then I can think of a plan for it also. So that an end be put to the damage to life and crops due to wild animals."
Rawat said he could give bonus on cowfeed (chara) production and has made ponds for even wild animals that can be seen in Rajaji park.
"We are working to link cow protection with the economy," he said, adding "I have a complaint with my BJP friends that they do not talk about the good deeds done by our government."
When a reporter said that the government had issued a press release that included his remarks made at the function, Rawat said, "It is not to my knowledge. The facts can be verified from Hansdev Acharya and Ramanand Acharya, under whose chairmanship the function was held."
He insisted that "I have not said anything of that kind. I have not stated it. The question does not arise."