Raipur (Chhattisgarh): Lending weight to the opposition charge that political cynicism was driving the BJP’s efforts to tighten laws banning cow slaughter in different parts of India, the Chhattisgarh chief minister on Saturday acknowledged the existing beef ban was working perfectly in his state but nevertheless said punishment for violations must now be enhanced to the death penalty.
“We will hang those who kill cows,” Raman Singh told reporters in Jagdalpur, a day after BJP-ruled Gujarat tightened its already stringent anti-cow slaughter law by making violations punishable with life imprisonment.
“Does such a thing happen in Chhattisgarh? I don’t think it has happened in the last 15 years (of BJP rule). If it happens, we will hang those who dare do it (‘Marega to latka denge‘),” Singh told reporters in Jagdalpur. He was responding to queries by journalists about whether he would, like Yogi Adityanath in UP, take a “tough stand” on cow slaughter.
Normally, law enforcement professionals suggest a more stringent penalty for a crime when the existing penalty is deemed to be an insufficient deterrent. But Chhattisgarh is not alone in enhancing the penalty for a law which by the chief minister’s own admission is not even being violated.
The Gujarat government’s decision to amend the 1954 Gujarat Animal Preservation Act to prescribe life imprisonment for cow slaughter was not accompanied by any statistical evidence of cows actually having been slaughtered in the state or of the prescribed seven year jail term being inadequate.
The slaughter of cows, buffalos, bulls, bullocks and calves, and the possession of their meat is banned in Chhattisgarh. Their transport or export to other states for slaughter is also banned. These offences attract the same punishment of 7 years jail and a fine up to Rs 50,000.
The Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill was approved by the Legislative Assembly on Friday, providing for life imprisonment for cow slaughter – the first in the country.
The bill also has a provision for 10-year imprisonment for the transportation, storage or sale of beef. Cow slaughter is already banned in Gujarat.
Meanwhile, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi accused the BJP of “hypocrisy” over the banning of beef after the saffron party said it would not be extended to the northeastern states.
“In UP, cow is mummy, and in the northeastern states it’s yummy. This shows the BJP’s hypocrisy. While they are talking about a beef ban in UP, they have said there would be no such thing in the northeast. Assembly elections are going to be held in three states in the northeast. Beef is easily available in (BJP-ruled) Goa. You tell me what is this,” he told a TV news channel.
N.Biren Singh, the BJP chief minister of Manipur slammed Owaisi for his comments. “Such wild allegations should not be made. We worship cows, we preserve them. He (Owaisi) cannot make such observations about the entire northeast,” he said in Manipur’s capital Imphal.
In Manipur, the erstwhile Maharaja had in 1939 decreed prosecution for cow slaughter, but buffalo meat is consumed widely.
Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi supportered Owaisi’s hypocrisy remark against the BJP, saying it has been used by the saffron party as a “tool to further its politics”.
“We have heard what Raman Singh has said….what’s happening in UP. The hypocrisy behind cow protection is obvious. Saying that there will be no beef ban in northeastern states is political opportunism,” she said.
Soon after assuming office, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had ordered strict enforcement of the ban on cow slaughter and smuggling. Slaughter of buffaloes for meat is, however, allowed in the state. Buffalo meat trade in the state has been badly hit by the clampdown on illegal abattoirs.
With inputs from PTI