The Supreme Court is set to hear a plea challenging the Centre’s notification banning the sale and purchase of cattle at animal markets for slaughter. The plea, filed by a Hyderabad-based organisation, will come up for hearing on June 15. This comes days after Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan said the Centre will review all the recommendations submitted by various groups and was not treating it as a “prestige issue”. “Suggestions that have been submitted will be reviewed. It is not a prestige issue for the government,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a function to mark World Environment Day.
While the Madras High Court had earlier stayed the Centre’s notification for four weeks, the Kerala High Court junked a similar petition challenging the ban. The ban had triggered protests in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. Beef fests were organised at various places where protesters cooked beef and freely distributed it to the public. Two such protests had become embroiled in controversy, one in Kerala and the other in Tamil Nadu.
In Kerala, Youth Congress workers allegedly slaughtered a calf, skinned it and distributed its meat. The party high command suspended eight Youth Congress members, including the unit’s Kannur president. In Chennai, students at IIT-Madras also organised a beef fest on the campus. The next day, a group of students, allegedly led by an ABVP sympathiser, attacked a PhD scholar for attending the fest. The student, identified as Sooraj, was admitted to a hospital with facial injuries.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging to withdraw the ban. He also convened a meeting of chief ministers from other states to discuss the issue. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was also quite vocal about the ban, saying that her government would challenge it in the court. DMK working president MK Stalin led a protest march against the Centre’s decision to ban the sale and purchase of cattle at animal markets for slaughter.