New cattle trade rule attack on fundamental right, religious freedom: Civil leaders
The new rules, notified under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960, also prohibit sale and purchase of cattle - bulls, bullocks, cows, buffalos, steers, heifers, calves and camels - from the market for any religious sacrifice
Abu Zafar for IndiaTomorrow.net,
New Delhi, May 29: The new cattle trade rule, issued by the BJP-led central government last week, does not only ban sale and purchase of cattle for slaughtering for daily consumption but also for religious sacrifice and so it will not only hit meat and leather industry but also amount to attack on religious freedom enshrined in the Constitution of the country.
Amid strong protest from states like Kerala and West Bengal against the new rule, the civil society has also expressed serious concern on its likely impact and consequences.
According to the new rules, issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on May 23, cattle can't be purchased or sold from any marketplace in the country for purpose of slaughtering. The rules, titled as the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017, also have a provision to set up an Animal Market Monitoring Committee at the district level which will ensure the ‘welfare of the animals being traded'. The rule also makes necessary for buyers to declare that he or she is not buying the cattle for slaughtering and the committee will verify that whether he is an agriculturist or not. It is also stated that the buyer can't sell the cattle within six months after the date of purchase.
The new rules, notified under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960, also prohibit sale and purchase of cattle - bulls, bullocks, cows, buffalos, steers, heifers, calves and camels - from the market for any religious sacrifice.
Various religious communities in India including Muslim sacrifice cattle as religious obligation. On the occasion of Eid Al Adha or Bakrid, millions of Muslims sacrifice animals including goats, ox, buffaloes and camels.
Navaid Hamid, President of the All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, an umbrella body of Muslim organisation termed this new rule against the fundamental rights of a citizen.
"There are a number of flaws and problematic provisions in this new rule. It is against the fundamental rights of food, ensured in the Constitution of India. It is also against the freedom of religion as well," Hamid told IndiaTomorrow.net.
Hamid said that if the government is using such laws on the pretext of cruelty against animal then why it is allowing slaughtering of dogs and goats.
He also said that a large number of marginalised population in the country use animal meat as cheap protein.
Mohammad Salim Engineer, Secretary General of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, has strongly criticized the new rule.
"The government is directly targeting trade of a particular community and its practice of animal sacrifice - a religious obligation. It is a direct attack on religious freedom," he said.
"The notification should not have come from a ministry as it deals with a big issue. This shows that the government wants to do it indirectly. The government seems to have done it so that it could take it back in case of public anger," added Jamaat leader.
"The new cattle trade rule seems a joke and impractical. Those who framed it are ignorant of the ground realities, they are not aware of plurality and diversity of the country. People are already become angry. How can you stop a trade and how will you verify the purpose of the buyer," he asked.
Christian leader and social activist Dr John Dayal also thinks that this rule violates many fundamental rights of countrymen.
"The call for a national ban on cow slaughter and the sleight of hand shown in implementing the PCA Rules 2017 to make it legal across the country violates many federal accords of the Constituent Assembly and the Constitution, apart from exposing the mindset that in one stroke targets the two groups the Sangh has identified as its targets in India, the Muslims, and the large Jatavas, many of whom have once again started identifying themselves by their old name, the Chamars," he pointed out.
In Dayal's opinion, the new rule will impact Muslims and Jatavas the most because both of them are not considered vote bank of the ruling BJP.
After the announcement of this rule, Kerala witnessed massive protests across the state. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan himself condemned this new rule and wrote a letter to Prime Minster Narendra Modi asking its repeal. Kerala Agriculture Minister said that the state is preparing to challenge it in the Supreme Court.
Before this rule, at least 24 out of 29 Indian provinces already have various regulations banning either slaughtering of the cow or selling its meat.
Many people say that the new rule is also against the federal structure of the country as on various matters, state governments are responsible for making rules.
"The strain on federalism is a different cause of worry, but as serious as the social one. It remains to be seen how several state governments, including Kerala, will respond to this challenge to the rights of states to decide on the issue of cow slaughter. The gory protests in Kerala with the symbolic slaughtering of a cow in front of TV cameras, is a provocative but very real expression of anger," said Dayal, who is also a member of National Integration Council.
Dalit leader Bhai Tej Singh, who is president of Ambedkar Samaj Party, thinks the civil society is not speaking as loudly as it should against the new rule.
"What we are doing against it? If we remain silent like this then nothing will change. We are living in a democracy and we have to oppose it with united efforts, using our democratic rights. They won't stop unless we stop them," he said.
"They are allowing human to be killed and talking about animal rights," he added.
Tej Singh said that this new rule will affect farmers badly.
"It will affect everyone. Now farmer has to keep spending on animals because it would not be easy for him to sell them. I think they will introduce separate graveyard for animals soon. Because they have more sympathy towards animals," he quipped.