I fully support the implementation of stronger laws that protect animals from being mistreated in the country. But it is quite clear that the love of animals is not the driving force behind the government’s ban on beef (cow’s meat). This is merely a move to appease the Hindu right-wingers like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bajrang Dal. The government must be fully aware that the ban will only lead to illegal slaughter and far worse cruelties being inflicted upon the cows.
The bill banning the possession and eating of beef in the state of Maharashtra has received the assent of the president, Shri Pranab Mukherjee. It has become a topic of heated debate about the basic rights of individuals. This debate may even lead to a protracted legal battle. Beef forms a staple part of the diet of members belonging to the Muslim and Christian communities, especially during certain holy months of the year. They may treat the ban as an infringement on their fundamental rights. One wonders if the government considered every legal aspect pertaining to the bill before giving the push to convert it into a law.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in the state of Maharashtra should have thought twice before implementing the beef ban. Beef is not expensive in India, and people belonging to different economic backgrounds can afford to buy and eat it, unlike mutton, which is far more costly. Moreover, a lot of Hindus consume beef too, however several Hindu religious leaders and fundamentalists may frown upon it. They obviously enjoy eating beef and can procure it at cheaper rates.
The beef ban is nothing but an assault on the rights and individual freedoms of the people of Maharashtra. The ban on beef in the state reeks of discrimination and makes no sense at all. What will happen to all the people who cannot afford other forms of protein in their diet? Moreover, what fate awaits the cows that are being reared right now? Has the government worked out a way to compensate the owners, whose businesses will suffer terribly, along with that of hundreds of others who made their living from the beef trade?
The BJP-led government in Maharashtra has no right to decide what the people of the state should eat or should not eat. Moreover, it is wrong to impose one’s religious beliefs with regard to meat consumption on any person who does not subscribe to such beliefs. This ban will adversely affect tourism and foreigners will stop coming to India. The ban on beef is a direct infringement on an individual’s personal freedom. It will also result in numerous people losing their jobs, while the businesses of many will suffer and eventually close down.
The government should have thought twice about these people before imposing the ban on beef. I wonder why the president gave his assent to the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill, which has been pending for the last 20 years. It is time that state governments as well as the Centre invested their energies in trying to solve the real problems plaguing the people instead of wasting time on trivial matters. The beef ban will also affect the leather industry and leather bags, leather belts, leather shoes and chappals will become expensive, the most famous being the Kolhapuri chappals, as raw materials will now have to be imported from abroad. If I cannot buy beef in Maharashtra, I can ask my friends in Goa to get it for me. How can the government put me behind bars or fine me for eating my favourite red meat? It is a matter of my personal choice as to what I eat and what I should not.