Beef was cooked on the roadside and consumed in Kerala on Saturday in protest against the Centre’s ban on sale of cattle for slaughter at animal markets, a move which also came under attack in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Puducherry.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan dashed off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention for repealing the measure. He said the Centre’s decision amounts to an “intrusion” to the rights of the states in the country’s federal structure.
The ban, was, however, welcomed by animal protection bodies and organisations running cow shelters.
Union Women and Child Development minister Maneka Gandhi, an animal rights activist, also strongly supported the ban.
But Vijayan and his Puducherry counterpart V Narayanasamy said the government has no right to impose restrictions on the food habits of people. The Centre’s decision is “autocratic” and a “clear case of infringement” on the rights of people relating to food habits,” Narayanasamy said.
In his two-page letter to Modi, Vijayan said the new rules should have been introduced in consultation with the states.
The absence of efforts to take the states into confidence on such a drastic move with far-reaching consequences is detrimental to our democracy, he said, and demanded that the rules be repealed.
Activists of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist led Left Democratic Front, opposition Congress-headed UDF and their youth wings took out marches and organised beef fests across Kerala, where beef is widely consumed.
Demonstrations were held outside the secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram where the protestors cooked and distributed beef on the roadside.
“We will eat beef to show our protest against the central government. We want to tell this to Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Democratic Youth Federation of India national president Mohammed Riyaz, who led the protest, said.
In Kollam district, a group of Congress workers cooked beef in front of the DCC office to register its opposition to the Centre’s decision.
District unit chief of Congress, Bindu Krishna told reporters that “beef delicacy will be packed and sent to head post office for delivery to Modi ji.”
In Kochi, Tourism and Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran participated in a ‘beef fest’, where bread and beef curry was served, even as Youth Congress activists took out a protest march in the city.
In Thodupuzha in Idukki district, protesters took out a march with the head of a buffalo.
Reacting to the Centre’s decision, senior Congress leader and former Union minister A K Antony said the notification should be “torn to bits” and “dumped in a dust-bin”.
The Congress-led UDF will observe ‘black day’ on Monday against the ban, opposition leader in the assembly Ramesh Chennithala said in Thrissur.
Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu condemned the move and demanded that the Centre withdraw the notification.
Dravida Munnetra Kazagham working president M K Stalin urged the Centre to withdraw the ban to protect the country’s pluralism.
The Centre should not curtail the freedom of choice in respect of food, Stalin said. Pattali Makkal Katchi chief S Ramadoss also slammed the ban.
West Bengal government criticised the Centre and said it cannot take such unilateral decisions in a federal structure.
“The Centre has not discussed the matter with us. Everybody knows our stand on this issue.
“Let us get the notification first, then we will decide our next course of action,” Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said in Kolkata.
The environment ministry on Friday banned the sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter across the nation, in a decision that will have far-reaching consequences on animal husbandry and trade associated with the sector. The new stringent rules were notified by the environment ministry.
The ministry on Saturday justified the new rules, saying it will remove the scope of illegal sale and smuggling of bovines and also ensure their welfare.
Union Information and Broadcasting minister Venkaiah Naidu appealed against giving a communal tinge to the move.
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.”
The ministry of environment and forests notified the stringent Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 on May 25, banning the sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter.
“Animal markets were started for farmers so that they could sell their cattle to another farmer. 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 to the farmers. This mechanism was only for the farmer.
Since last 15 years it has become only for slaughters who pretend to be farmers purchasing the cattle from the market. Then they purchase 80 to 90 cattle and carry it in their truck pretending as farmers and eventually slaughter the animals,” Maneka Gandhi said in New Delhi.
In Uttar Pradesh, the Centre’s decision elicited a positive response from organisations running cow shelters, which termed it as an “appropriate step” in the “right direction.”
The chairman of Lucknow-based Shri Lakshman Gaushala, Prabhu Jalan, said the new rules would help in tackling rampant cattle theft and smuggling.
“Undoubtedly this is an appropriate step in the right direction, and should have been implemented long ago. This will also help in better handling of the stray cattle.”
Kumar Ashok Pandey, the founding chairman of Sanatan Brahma Foundation, an organisation which runs a cow shelter in in eastern UP’s Sant Kabir Nagar, was of the view that the decision would help in arresting cattle slaughter.
Animal Equality, which conducted a nationwide study of cattle markets, while noting that there was no process earlier to regulate animal markets said the new rules will help plug that gap.