Politics

Sikkim: BJP’s North-East Democratic Alliance Ally Tables Bill in State Assembly to Ban Cow Slaughter

With the introduction of the Sikkim Prevention of Cow Slaughter Bill, 2017, the state is set to become the first in the Northeast to impose a ban on cow slaughter.

Sikkim legislative assembly. Credit: Government of Sikkim

Sikkim legislative assembly. Credit: Government of Sikkim

New Delhi: Sikkim is set to become the first northeastern state to ban cow slaughter with the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) tabling a Bill in the Sikkim assembly on August 28 to prohibit the killing of cows and its female progeny across the state.

According to the Sikkim Prevention of Cow Slaughter Bill, 2017, a cow has been defined as a milking cow, dry cow, heifer or calf and an offence under the Act will be cognizable and non-bailable.

According to the Bill, brought in by the SDF – an ally of the BJP’s North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) – anyone found slaughtering a cow in the state will face imprisonment for a term of not less than two years, which can even be extended to five years, along with a minimum fine of Rs 10,000. A repeat offender will face rigorous imprisonment with at least five years in jail which may be extended to seven years along with a fine of no less than Rs 10,000.

Till now, the northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur and Sikkim have not had a ban on cow slaughter. In Assam, the slaughter of cows is banned except on issuance of fit for slaughter certificate at designated places.

In Sikkim, while the native population of Bhutias and Lepchas traditionally consume beef, the majority Nepali Hindu population doesn’t.

According to the Bill, tabled by Sikkim animal husbandry minister Somnath Poudyal on the first day of the sixth session of the ninth assembly, the government will also set up gaushalas and protective sheds for the unproductive cows.

Tabling the Bill in the House, Poudyal said, “The cow is regarded a mother for agriculture, dairy industry and the mankind, especially in India. The people of Sikkim consider the cow as sacred and have an emotional attachment to it.”

Giving more reasons for bringing in the proposed legislation, the minister added, “The dairy sector in Sikkim is the single largest employer along with agriculture and is a major source of income for small and marginal farmers. Over 80% of the rural households own dairy animals and earn supplementary income from these activities.” According to local media reports, he told the House, “Generally, the tendency of the cow owners is to cull and sell the cows once they are old and unproductive which is highly unethical as well as inhumane. The government of Sikkim has a strong feeling to invoke a human, ethical and sustainable alternative to taking care of the aged and unproductive cows in gaushalas.”

“Therefore”, he added, “The government has deemed it necessary to frame a legislation to prohibit and prevent the slaughter of cows and its female progeny in the state of Sikkim.”

The Bill, however, provides an exception for cows suffering from infectious or contagious diseases. To slaughter an infected cow, one will require a certificate from the competent authority. Such a cow will have to be slaughtered at a designated place as per the rules prescribed in the proposed Act. The carcass shall be buried or disposed of also as per the rules set in the Act.