Maneka, animal rights group hail move; protests in Kerala
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 CM 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 (WCD) 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a drastic move with far-reaching consequences is detrimental to our democracy, he said, and demanded that the rules be repealed.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 CPI(M)-led LDF, opposition Congress-headed UDF and their youth wings took out marches and organised beef festivals 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. Reacting to the Centre's decision, senior Congress leader A K Antony said the notification should be "torn to bits" and "dumped in a dust-bin".
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.
"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," Meneka said. Since the last 15 years it(cow) has become only for slaughterers who pretend to be farmers purchasing the cattle from the merket. Then they purchase 80 to 90 cattle and carry it in their truck pretending as farmers and eventually slaughter the animals," she said in New Delhi.
In Uttar Pradesh, the Centre's decision evoked a positive response from organisations running cow shelters, which termed it as an "appropriate step" in the "right direction."