According to a report in the Indian Express, a senior official from the Ministry of Environment and Forests has conveyed the Government’s decision to withdraw the ban on sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets.
On May 23rd of this year, the Ministry of Environment and Forests passed a notification under Prevent of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017, banning the sale of cattle for slaughter at animal markets across the country.
Under these rules, cattle was defined as “a bovine animal including bulls, cows, buffalos, steers, heifers and calves and includes camels.” The rules directed buyers of cattle at animal markets had to verify their identity as agriculturists and declare that they would not sell the animals for a period of six months from the date of purchase. The rules also specifically directed following of State cattle protection laws and directed that buyers “not sacrifice the animal for any religious purpose.” The rules also prohibited cattle purchased from animal markets being sold outside the State, without permission.
The effective impact of these rules has been a nation-wide ban on the slaughter of cows and other cattle, a ban on the consumption of beef. This decision of the government has received criticism across the country for basing such a ban on ideological grounds, rather prioritising the economic interest of farmers.
Sagari Ramdas, a trained veterinarian and works with the Food Sovereignty Alliance, India, states, “The Animal markets are the nerve centres of all such transactions.” She identifies the economic impact that the ban has had by effectively choking the free movement of animals within the market spaces. It has devastatingly impacted the livelihood of farmers across the country.
Additionally, an integral impact of such legislation is the government sanctioned brutality that has been taking place in the form of multiple incidents of cow vigilantism across the country which has led to violent mob lynchings by ‘gau rakshaks’. (Read our article on cow vigilantism here.)
Whether such a move is merely in anticipation of the upcoming state elections, or an actual reconsideration of the legislation by the Government is yet to be seen.