A DAY after the Gujarat Assembly amended the law to make cow slaughter punishable by a minimum of 10 years in jail and a maximum of life imprisonment, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh waded into the controversy on Saturday with his remark that anyone found committing “gau hatya” — cow slaughter — would be hanged (“latka denge.”)
Chhattisgarh banned cow slaughter – and transport and sale of beef – through the Chhattisgarh Agricultural Cattle Preservation Act, 2004. Punishment for those falling foul of the law is up to three years in jail, and a fine of up to Rs 10,000.
A senior official from the Chief Minister’s Office, however, sought to play down Singh’s statement and said it had been “lost in translation.”
Earlier in the day, asked by a reporter whether Chhattisgarh is contemplating a new law on cow slaughter, Singh said, “Chhattisgarh mein kahan gau maut ho rahe hai? Ho raha hai kya? Aaj tak…pichhle pandrah saal mein…kisi gau ko maara hai kya? Jo maarega usko latka denge (Where is cow slaughter taking place in Chhattisgarh? Has any cow been slaughtered in the last 15 years? If anyone does so, we will hang the person).”
The CMO official said, “The controversy has emerged from the translation of ‘latka denge’. That term is often used signifying that action will be taken. All he meant was that if any contravention of the law is found, action as per law will be taken.”
The state’s 2004 law bans slaughter of “agricultural cattle”, possession of beef, and transport of agricultural cattle for the purpose of slaughtering. Section 11 of the Act puts the burden of proof during the trial on the accused. Agricultural cattle is defined under the Act as “cows of all ages, calves of cows and bulls, bullocks, male and female buffaloes”.
In the Assembly session that lasted for nearly a month, and was suspended for all practical purposes other than discussion on GST, which is scheduled to be held in April, the government did not propose any changes to the cow slaughter law. The opposition has locked horns with the government on its decision to form a corporation from April 1 to sell alcohol.
On Saturday, while the Chief Minister was in Bastar to inaugurate the implementation phase of Bastar Net, an ambitious plan to connect seven districts of the Maoist-affected area with fibre optic cables, the main opposition parties held protests demanding complete prohibition in the state.
Singh also flagged off a night train between Jagdalpur and Visakhapatnam.