Kerala on Saturday witnessed “beef fests” in various parts of the state to protest the central government’s decision on banning sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter. The protests were carried out despite Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s assurance that he would approach the Prime Minister in this matter. CM Vijayan has, however, already written to PM Modi saying such restrictions would prove to be a challenge in upholding plurality and the essence of the nation. “It would also be against the principles of secularism and federalism enshrined in our constitution,” he wrote in the letter.
— CMO Kerala (@CMOKerala) May 27, 2017
This move of the Union government has been slammed by several states and organisations. Claiming the decision to be a part of RSS agenda, CM Vijayan on Friday said, “Crores of people in the country are slaughtering animals for food. Those who consume meat do not belong to any particular religion. Narendra Modi has interfered with people’s right to eat. If cattle is banned today, in future there could be a ban on eating fish.”
The protests in the state today were led out by activists of the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF, opposition Congress-headed UDF and their youth wings. According to a PTI report, demonstrations were also held outside the secretariat in the state capital where the protesters cooked and distributed beef on the road side. “We will eat beef to show our protest against the central government. We want to tell this to Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” DYFI national president Mohammed Riyaz, who led the protest, said.
Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday notified the stringent ‘Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017’ under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. “The aim of the rules is only to regulate the animal market and sale of cattle in them and ensure welfare of cattle dealt in them,” he said.
Senior Congress leader and former Union minister A K Antony also hit out at the government in the Centre and said the notification should be “torn to bits” and “dumped in a dust-bin”.
A group of congress workers in Kollam district cooked beef in front of the DCC office to register its opposition to the Centre’s decision. Tourism and Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran was amongst those who participated in a beef fest in Kochi. Youth congress activists at Kannur publicly butchered a cow to protest against the centre’s decision.
Puducherry CM V Narayanasamy also slammed the government for imposing the ban by calling the decision “autocratic” and a “clear case of infringement” on the rights of people relating to food habits.
M K Stalin, DMK’s working president also urged the Centre to withdraw the ban to protect the country’s pluralism and that it should not curtail the freedom of choice in respect of food.
On Monday, the UDF will be observing ‘black day’ against the ban, said opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala at Thrissur. “Front workers will wear black badges and take out protest marches,” he added.
The ban, opposed by many was, however, welcomed by animal protection bodies and organisations running cow shelters. Union minister Maneka Gandhi, who is also an animal rights activist, also strongly supported the ban.
According to a PTI report, Union Information and Broadcasting minister Venkaiah Naidu when asked by reporters in New Delhi about the ban appealed to all not to give a communal colour to “the decision made in line with a Supreme Court directive.”