In a bid to crack down on cow vigilantism, the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday tabled the cow vigilantism bill in the state assembly. On June 26, the government had proposed a jail term of six months to three years and a fine of Rs 25,000-50,000 for those who engage in violence against anyone booked under the anti-cow slaughter Act.
The Kamal Nath government had cleared an amendment to the Madhya Pradesh Gauvansh Vadh Pratishedh Adhiniyam, 2004 — the anti-cow slaughter law passed by the previous BJP government — to include this provision.
Additional Chief Secretary (Animal Husbandry) Manoj Shrivastava had told The Indian Express that the punishment will increase to minimum one year and maximum five years if a mob is involved in cow vigilantism. In case of repeat offenders, the jail term will be doubled.
The amendment also seeks to punish those who abet cow vigilantism by providing a jail term of one to three years. People who damage property of those charged under the anti-cow slaughter law will also be punished.
The move had come in the wake of an incident near Kachhiwara, under Dundaseoni police station in Seoni district, on May 22, when five people had thrashed three persons, including a Muslim man and woman, on suspicion of carrying beef.
Earlier, the state government had decided to ease rules governing the transportation of cows to ensure that farmers and traders are not harassed by cow vigilantes and stopped by police. The government also decided to allow trade of cows between farmers by removing a condition that they could buy bovines only from bazaars or haats.
The Supreme Court in July 2018 said “horrendous acts of mobocracy” cannot be allowed to overrun the law of the land and issued a slew of guidelines to deal with mob lynching and cow vigilantism, besides asking the Centre to consider enacting a new law to sternly deal with such cases. The apex court had issued a slew of directions to the Centre to provide “preventive, remedial and punitive measures” to deal with such offences.