Another Indian state tightens cow protection laws

By Raghavendra Verma, in New Delhi

- Last updated on GMT

Despite an existing ban, cows are still slaughtered illegally for food
Despite an existing ban, cows are still slaughtered illegally for food
The north Indian state of Haryana has enacted a new cow protection law that bans even the sale of canned beef and increases the prison term for slaughtering cows (including oxen) from five years to 10 years.

Furthermore, during any trial of offences under the new Cow Protection and Cow Conservation and Development Law, passed in the state assembly on Monday (16 March), the burden of proof would be for the accused to establish their innocence.

The law will seriously affect the state’s southern district of Mewat, where 95% of the million strong population is Muslim, and despite an existing ban, which has been in place since 1966, cows are still slaughtered illegally for food.

"People used to produce and consume beef here,"​ Salamuddin Qureshi, Mewat district president of Jamiat-ul-Quresh - a meat trader community organisation, told GlobalMeatNews​. "The new law will have an impact and it is clear that people will slaughter fewer cows now."

According to Qureshi, the district’s daily consumption of cow beef and buffalo meat is 25 to 30 tonnes and it is sold at US$2.25 per kg. "There is always a shortage of buffalo meat and now the prices will go up further,"​ he said.

Qureshi said that although his community is disappointed with the new law, it hopes that now the state government will at least provide slaughterhouses for buffalos in each of the six blocks of the Mewat district. "Currently none of the designated slaughter houses are functional due to the absence of licenses and non-appointment of veterinarians,"​ he said. "We are forced to used unauthorised places for slaughter and therefore face frequent trouble from the authorities."

Qureshi added that, as butchers are already violating the law by slaughtering at unauthorised places, they may be tempted to undertake other illegal acts, such as slaughtering cows.

Indeed, Naresh Kadyan, chairman of Haryana’s Gau Seva Aayog, a cow protection agency, claimed cows are brought to illegal slaughterhouses by Hindu dairy producers: "People from the state’s Gujjar community [known for raring cattle], secretly sell their old cows to Muslims for slaughter to earn extra money,"​ he told GlobalMeatNews​.

Haryana’s new law follows the implementation of similar law in the western state of Maharashtra after both the states elected governments led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

However, Kadyan is still not satisfied, and is demanding even stronger provisions. "There should be fast track courts to try these cases and interstate movement of cows should also be banned,"​ he said. "This law is just eyewash, political leaders don’t have any love or respect for cows and are only pleasing their voters."

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