Will challenge the ban legally, says Mamata
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday described the Centre's notification on cattle slaughter as a "deliberate attempt to encroach upon the state's powers" and said her government would not accept it.
The Union government had last week banned the sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter.
The environment ministry had notified the stringent 'Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017' under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
"We will challenge it legally. We will consult the state's Advocate-General on this matter. I will request the Centre not to interfere with the state's matter and destroy the federal structure," she told a press conference at the state secretariat.
"They (Centre) are an elected government and they have their jurisdiction. The state government is also an elected government and it has its jurisdiction," Banerjee said.
"It is a deliberate attempt to encroach upon the state's powers. It is undemocratic, unconstitutional and unethical. It is also an attempt to destroy the federal structure," she said.
After protests from several states, the union environment ministry is examining changing the definition of cattle in its new rules to exclude buffaloes from a ban on sale for slaughter at animal markets, sources have said.
"As the ministry has received many requests to modify the rules on cattle sale and slaughter, we are consulting our legal department to make new changes. Though, it's not possible to notify the decision in a day or two as Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan is not in the country. Once he returns, the ministry will take the decision after taking different stakeholders into confidence," a source said.
Protests were organised in several parts of Tamil Nadu and the opposition DMK threatened to launch an agitation on May 31.
"What we eat cannot be decided by Delhi or Nagpur," Kerala's Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan asserted. Vijayan has called an all-party meeting to discuss next steps.
Eating beef is part of the culinary tradition in Kerala and most parties in the state have vehemently opposed the new rules. The Congress is observing a "black day," while the ruling CPM has hosted "beef fests" at about 200 places in the state to protest against the Centre's order.
MK Stalin of Tamil Nadu's chief opposition party the DMK, will lead a protest in Chennai on Wednesday. Stalin said the Centre has "snatched away" the fundamental right to choice of food given by the Constitution.
At the Indian Institute of Technology or IIT Madras, around 80 students participated in a beef fest and accused the ruling BJP of "imposing its communal agenda on the masses."
Meanwhile, three Youth Congress workers, including its Kannur district president were on Monday suspended by the party for slaughtering a calf in public after its video went viral on social media and triggered outrage, in an apparent damage control exercise.
The BJP on Monday launched a scathing attack on the Congress over the public slaughter of a calf in Kerala by its youth wing leaders, calling the act "shameful" and "provocative".