Mumbai: The bill banning cow slaughter in Maharashtra, pending for several years, on Monday received the President’s assent, which means red meat lovers in the state will have to do without beef.
This measure has taken almost twenty years to materialize and was initiated during the previous Sena-BJP government.The bill was first submitted to the President for approval on January 30, 1996. However, subsequent governments at the Centre, including the BJP led NDA stalled it and did not seek the President’s consent.
A delegation of seven state BJP MPs led by Kirit Somaiya, (MP from Mumbai North) had met the President in New Delhi recently and submitted a memorandum seeking assent to the bill. The memorandum said that the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 1995, passed during the previous Shiv Sena-BJP regime, was pending for approval for 19 years.
“Thanks a lot honourable President sir for the assent on Maharashtra Animal Preservation Bill. Our dream of ban on cow-slaughter becomes reality now,” chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Twitter. A delegation of seven state BJP MPs had met the President recently and submitted a memorandum.
The law will ban beef from the slaughter of bulls and bullocks, which was previously allowed based on a fit-for-slaughter certificate, according to The Indian Express. The new Act will, however, allow the slaughter of water buffaloes.
The punishment for the sale of beef or possession of it could be prison for five years with an additional fine of Rs 10,000. “Apart from rendering people jobless, the immediate effect will be the spiralling price of other meats as people will be forced to gravitate to them,” Indian Express quoted president of the Mumbai Suburban Beef Dealer Association Mohammed Qureshi as saying.
Reuters had earlier reported that Hindu nationalists in India had stepped up attacks on the country’s beef industry, seizing trucks with cattle bound for abattoirs and blockading meat processing plants in a bid to halt the trade in the world’s second-biggest exporter of beef.
An official at a beef transport group in Maharashtra state said around 10 vehicles travelling to Mumbai had been stopped in the last week of February, the animals taken forcefully and drivers beaten up by members of Hindu nationalist groups despite carrying valid documents.
However, a BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari told The Hindu that the party’s efforts to seek a ban on slaughter of calves should not be viewed with a communal lens but keeping in mind the “interests of agrarian communities.
(With inputs from Reuters)