The Centre’s decision on Friday to ban the sale and purchase of cattle for slaughter at cattle markets evoked strong reactions. Political leaders from different states have both hailed and opposed the decision. States like Tamil Nadu and Kerala organised Beef Fests in protest whereas, in Uttar Pradesh, cow shelters welcomed the decision, saying the new rule would curb rampant theft and smuggling of cattle. The Centre’s move is considered to be a big blow for meat suppliers across the country. The Environment Ministry notified the Regulation of Livestock Market Rules under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. According to these Rules, “…no person shall bring a cattle to an animal market unless upon arrival he has furnished a written declaration signed by the owner of the cattle or his duly authorised agent… stating that the cattle has not been brought to the market for sale for slaughter”.
Here are the political reactions from across the country:
Pinarayi Vijayan: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote a letter to PM Modi on Saturday, staunchly opposing the Centre’s decision and said such restrictions go against the principles of secularism and federalism as enshrined in the Constitution. “The absence of efforts to take the states into confidence on such a drastic move with far reaching consequences is detrimental to our democracy. I am afraid it amounts to an intrusion into the rights of the states in our federal structure. The introduction of such restrictions in a hasty manner would certainly prove to be a challenge in upholding our plurality, the essence of our nation,” read the letter to PM Modi. He said the Rules impose unreasonable restrictions on the fundamental right to carry on any trade or occupation under Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution. They also violate the basic right of a person to freedom of choice regarding his food, he said.
Mamata Banerjee: West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee on Monday said that she would request the Centre to not interfere in the matter and destroy the federal structure, adding that her government would “not accept this order” and would “challenge it legally and constitutionally”. The government of West Bengal had earlier disapproved of the Centre’s move to ban the sale of cattle from animal markets meant for slaughter, saying that such a decision cannot be taken unilaterally in a federal structure.
M.K Stalin: DMK leader M K Stalin called for a protest in Chennai on Wednesday against the Centre’s recent decision to ban trade of cattle for slaughter in animal markets. Earlier, the DMK had called for repealing the beef ban law, saying it infringes on the right of every citizen to make their food choices. He had also asked the BJP government to recuse itself from “endangering the pluralism by instituting monolithic laws”. While Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami said he will comment on the Centre’s ban on cattle sale after going through the notification.
Maneka Gandhi: Union Minister Maneka Gandhi defended the government’s decision, saying that the new rule will ensure prevention of cruelty towards animals. Gandhi, who is also an animal rights activist, added, “Animal markets were started for farmers so that they could sell their cattle to other farmers. So if I have a cow and a calf and I don’t want to keep the calf, then I can sell it in the market.”
V Narayanasamy: Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy slammed the ban saying government has no right to impose restrictions on food habits of people, calling it “autocratic and a clear case of infringement on the rights of people relating to food habits”.
Ravi Shankar Prasad: Law Minister and senior BJP leader slammed the Congress over the recent slaughter of a calf in public view in Kerala, allegedly by Youth Congress workers protesting against the Centre. He said, “This is shameful and in many ways provocative. Political opposition happens but it is unfortunate that such an act has been committed, that too by Youth Congress workers.”