ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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‘Holy Cow’ Politics

The new rules banning market trading of cattle for slaughter are unconstitutional and un-Hindu. 

States like Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab have the most draconian laws prohibiting cow slaughter. Others like West Bengal, Kerala, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Tripura, however, do not ban cow slaughter. And, in states like Odisha, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu, the ban is only conditional—cows and bulls “fit for slaughter” have to be unfit to breed or work. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in power at the centre over the last three years, is acutely aware that its spectacular rise since the late 1980s has been the result of its concerted political demonstration of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) brand of militant Hindutvavadi nationalism. So now, bent on taking power even in states where it has hitherto never stood much of a chance, the BJP-led central government has unscrupulously resorted to prohibiting the slaughter of cattle across the length and breadth of the country. It has done this through an amendment to the rules under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCAA), 1960. The new rules ban the trading of cattle for slaughter in markets all over the country, thereby, in effect, trying to put an end to the slaughter of cattle in India.

Of course, supported by the BJP and the central and state governments where the party has been in power, the so-called gau rakshaks (self-appointed cow protectors) have unleashed yet another form of aatankwad (terrorism)—gautankwad—which is very much in tune with the Hindutvavadi political culture of unlawful resort to violence and intimidation against Muslims and Dalits. The BJP Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh, threatened to hang anyone who harms a cow. His Gujarat counterpart tried to link protection of the cow with saving the world from spiritual and moral degradation! And, a minister of the Government of Rajasthan, where in April this year Pehlu Khan was lynched by gau rakshaks when he was transporting bullocks he had bought at a cattle market, sought to defend Khan’s killers by directing the police to act against those who slaughter cows. Pehlu Khan eventually died of his injuries. Presumably, consenting to cow slaughter is a bigger crime than causing grievous harm, including death, to humans.

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Updated On : 27th Aug, 2017

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