By Harshmeet Singh
President Pranab Mukherjee, on Monday, gave his assent to the historic (historic because it originated 20 years back) Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill which makes slaughter of bullocks and calves a non-bailable offence in the state of Maharashtra.
The water buffaloes, however, will remain outside the purview of the bill, making it legal to slaughter them. The slaughter of cow was already banned in the state since 1976.
Furthermore, according to the amended provisions in the bill, anyone found slaughtering these animals would attract a jail term of 5 years, as opposed to the earlier rule of a 6-months jail term.
The amended bill has also hiked the fine from Rs 1,000 to Rs 10,000.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis expressed his jubilance over the assent when he tweeted “Thanks a lot Hon President Sir for the assent on Maharashtra Animal Preservation Bill. Our dream of ban on cow slaughter becomes a reality now,”
Even as the state Government and the opposition welcomed the President’s assent, the amendment drew sharp reactions from the ‘netizens’ with a number of them terming it as a grave violation of their freedom of choice. While some people tagged it as a harsh decision for the poor, taking away their right to have high protein diet at 1/3rd the cost of mutton, some others chose to lament the fact they would have to bid goodbye to their steak.
With the possibility of losing out on their business looming large, the beef traders in Maharashtra are contemplating all the possible actions to make an appeal against the bill. Apart from rendering thousands of people jobless, another flip side to this legislation is silence over the fate of unproductive cattle that have passed their age of giving milk or getting impregnated. Such cattle would remain a burden on the farmers until they meet a natural demise.
Notably, Maharashtra isn’t the first Indian state to bring in such a law. While Gujarat and Daman and Diu have completely banned cattle slaughter, cow slaughter is a punishable offence in a number of states including Punjab, Harayana, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.