Recently, cow and calf slaughter was banned in Maharashtra by passing a law — a move that took almost two decades to materialise and was initiated during the previous Sena-BJP government. The data shows that Indian States can be classified into five categories — north-eastern States with no restrictions on cattle slaughter; Kerala with no law but a caveat; Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam which allow the slaughter of cattle with a certificate; Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Goa and Odisha which ban cow slaughter, but allow the slaughter of other cattle with a certificate; and the rest of India which bans the slaughter of all cattle. Ban on slaughtering has made thousands of people jobless and many traders who invested in meat exports got a jolt with this ban. Leather market, which is already facing competition from Italian and other European markets, has got punch from the ban.
A democracy is supposed to guarantee basic human rights to every individual. It is also supposed to show good governance with focus on public interest. The livelihoods of millions are in question by this beef ban. The government has failed on both counts i.e. basic human rights to work as a traders and the ban can hardly be called good governance, because the interests of beef traders have not been taken into an account. Now, what they are supposed to do? Move to another state, where it is not banned yet. There are many problems that require the government attention, like infrastructure, toilets, hygiene, easy norms for doing business etc. However, government has shown its interest in this ban only. So far, we’ve heard only assurance and big talks. However, in the name of reforms, this government has served nothing but hatred. Does this ban take us towards development? Is there any backup plan to compensate beef exports revenues with others?
Now, since the law has come into effect, the authorities are duty bound to take action if slaughter is carried out. Please do not make this a religious and prestige issue, said Justice V M Kanade. The court was hearing an application filed by a beef dealers’ association, which has challenged the ban on beef sale. Even the Constitution of India has an article in Directives to State Policy which mentions that milk providing animals like cow and draught animals should be protected and farming be encouraged. Maharashtra has anti-cow Slaughter bill passed way back in 1976, and it was championed in by Indian National Congress.
The provision of the constitution and the validity of earlier act will come under review. Government act on cow slaughter was an expression of an appeasement of certain religious group which had called for ban on slaughter. Government rallied with certain religious groups while leaving cattle farmer lurch in the cold along with their livestock. Cattle farmers will be affected by slaughtering ban and agriculture farmers will be affected by Land Acquisition Bill, so is this government anti-farmer?
During the last hearing, the Bombay High Court had directed the Mumbai Police Commissioner and the Municipal Commissioner to make sure that the slaughter of bulls and bullocks is stopped at the Deonar abattoir. Though, government speaks of economic development but its act speaks something different and against an economic activity of cattle farmer. Government talks about ‘Make in India’ while their act takes out an economic activity from domain of ‘Produce of India’. An economic activity of cattle farmer which was wholly aboriginal for Indian market and for export- add-on economic activity adding to country’s foreign exchange couldn’t dismantle ground hurdle.
Eating any meat is a subject of personal preference which comes under the Fundamental rights given by the Constitution of India. As per the Constitution, when it was written post Independence, the Beef slaughtering was written as a state subject in the Constitution. That is, every state can exercise its right to ban or allow cow slaughter. Many people do not know that even in a banned state, one can kill a cow and eat its meat and share it with others without trading it for monetary gain. This fundamental right cannot be snatched by any legislative body like the Parliament or assembly by banning it, as it is provided in the Constitution.
Do people realise that India is one of the biggest meat exporters in the world, and because of that it is also largest producer and consumer of dairy products. Unlike other countries, we simply don’t bring up cattle for meat exports, but for dairy products as well as for farming. Banning beef has made it a religious issue, but it is not that issue but every community are bound to suffer. Ban on killing any animals come into effect when it is defined in ‘protected under rare species act’. If you are banning on humanitarian grounds then we should also ban chickens and goats as well.
For millions of people like me, who are hardcore vegetarians, doesn’t make any difference whether a cow is killed or a bird, but seeing a slaughter house is disgusting. However, we have no right to impose our views on others? These are very dangerous in our highly economically and socially charged situation, with India’s population now at 1,275 million, slated to reach 1,600 million by 2060.