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Rights

Assam Police Arrest Headmistress For 'Carrying Beef to School Lunch'

Beef is not banned in Assam. New legislation brought in 2021 bans cattle slaughter and sale of beef in parts of the state where Hindus, Jains and Sikhs are in a majority or near temples.

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New Delhi: Assam police has arrested the headmistress of an Goalpara school over allegations that she had carried beef into the school for lunch.

Beef is not banned in Assam, but a new law brought in 2021 bans cattle slaughter and sale of beef in parts of the state where Hindus, Jains and Sikhs are in a majority or within a five-kilometre radius of a temple or Vaishnavite monasteries.

An amendment to the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 2021, also empowers the police to enter the house of an accused and inspect, search and seize properties acquired in the last six years with money earned from “illegal cattle trade.”

The Hindu has identified the headmistress as Dalima Nessa of the Hurkachungi Middle English School in Goalpur’s Lakhipur area.

Indian Express has reported that the arrest of the headmistress, a 56-year-old, was made on the basis of a complaint lodged by the school management committee.

Nessa had brought the beef for lunch on May 14, a day on which there was a function at the school.

A police officer told the newspaper that the committee’s complaint had it that members of the staff to whom the headmistress had served beef had felt “discomfort” and that “both religious communities” had been upset by the incident.

Nessa has been booked under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 295A (outraging religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code.

The headmistress is in judicial custody at present.

While the law banning beef in places of Assam is new, this is not the first arrest for possession of beef since the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2016. In 2017, The Wire had reported three Muslims, including a minor, were arrested from Jorhat town for openly carrying beef and “hurting the religious sentiments of some people.” The incident was reported as the first in which someone was arrested in Assam for procuring beef for consumption.