Political slugfest over cattle slaughter ban intensifies

RSTV Bureau

After the Chief Ministers of West Bengal and Kerala, another Opposition leader Vincent H Pala, Congress MP and a former Union minister, has joined the issue of ban on sale of cattle for slaughter.

Writing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Meghalaya MP has urged him to exempt ban on sale of cattle for slaughter at animal markets in tribal and beef consuming states like Meghalaya.

“Tribal states like Meghalaya, etc. should be exempted from the application of these rules (the newly promulgated Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulations of livestock Markets) rules, 2017),” Pala, the Shillong MP said in the petition submitted to the PMO last evening.

He also stressed that formal views from all state governments should also be taken into consideration to review the rules and allow implementation of the same with state-wise necessary notifications.

Meghalaya was ranked the top beef-consuming state in the country where 80.74 per cent of the population eat beef, ahead of Lakshadweep and Nagaland, according to the latest National Sample Survey Office (NSSO).

Seeking the roll-back of the order, the former Union minister of state for Minority Affairs said the new rules should be rolled back as only Parliament can amend the relevant act and states must be consulted before any decision in that regards as it also affects the federal functions on the subject matter.

Earlier on Monday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan shot off letters to his counterparts in other states asking them to “stand together” and “oppose” the ban on sale of cattle for slaughter and urge the Prime Minister to withdraw the new regulations.

“Unless we stand together and oppose this anti-federal, anti-democratic and anti-secular move, it may mark the beginning of a series of similar measures aimed at destroying the federal democratic fabric and secular culture of our country,” Vijayan said in his letter.

“I would therefore fervently appeal to you to convey your objection to the 2017 Rules under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to the Prime Minister, and to request him to withdraw the rules introduced without any consultation with the states,” he said in the letter to various chief ministers.

The rules impose several restrictions on cattle trade, which would have serious repercussions on the livelihood of millions of people, especially those in the agricultural sector in the country, he said.

“It appears strange that the rules are promulgated under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 since they have nothing to do with the objects of the Act. Neither are the rules covered by the express delegation of legislative powers contained in the Act,” he said.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee too declared that her government will not accept it, calling the ban “undemocratic and unconstitutional”. The ruling Trinamool Congress chief also said that the order will be challenged legally.

“It is a deliberate attempt to encroach on the state’s powers. It is undemocratic, unconstitutional and unethical. It is also an attempt to destroy the federal structure of the country,” Banerjee had told journalists in Kolkata.

“We are not accepting the ban. We will challenge it legally. We will consult the state’s Advocate General on this matter. I will request the Centre not to interfere with the state’s matter and destroy the federal structure,” Banerjee said.

Meanwhile, protests were held in several parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. In the latter, the main opposition DMK has planned a protest on May 31.

DMK has slammed the EK Palaniswami government for “keeping mum” on the matter when neighbouring Kerala and Karnataka had vehemently opposed the ban.

DMK working president M K Stalin will lead a protest on May 31 in Chennai against the ban, the party said, adding “the fundamental right to choice of food granted by the Constitution has been snatched away”.

The Congress-led UDF observed a ‘black day’ in various parts of Kerala and took out protest marches. The ruling CPI (M) said it would organise ‘evening dharnas’ in 2000 places across the state on June 2.

Meanwhile, three Youth Congress workers–Kannur YC district president Rijil Makkutty and activists Joshi Kandathil and Sharafuddin–were suspended and the party distanced itself from the recent incident in which a calf was slaughtered in full public view.

(With inputs from the PTI)