After outcry, Centre may revisit definition of 'cattle'
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 tonotify 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.
Chief Ministers like West Bengal's Mamata Banerjee and Kerala's Pinarayi Vijayan have called the Centre's order an attack on state powers and said they would challenge it legally. Protests have spread from Kerala to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
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.
"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.
"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."
The environment ministry said last week that animal markets will only be able to trade in cattle meant for agricultural purposes. It said cattle for slaughter will have to be bought from farmers directly, defining cattle as bulls, cows, buffalo, steers, heifers, calves and camels.
Chief Minister Vijayan has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi protesting against the order and said it will not come into effect in Kerala till he gets a response. Puducherry's Congress Chief Minister V Narayanasamy has demanded that the order is withdrawn.
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".
The Congress on Monday distanced itself from the public slaughter of a calf in Kerala allegedly by Youth Congress workers, saying those behind the incident have no place in the party and have been suspended.