Cow slaughter and transportation of beef in Gujarat may soon attract life imprisonment as the BJP government is preparing to come out with possibly the harshest law in the country to “protect” cattle.
Though a bill to this effect is yet to be tabled in the assembly, the issue has already become the central theme of chief minister Vijay Rupani’s public speeches amid speculations that the party will push for an early state election.
Buoyed by the BJP’s landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh, the party believes that enacting a stricter cow protection law will help consolidate votes in the elections to be held in the backdrop of Patidar agitations for reservation in government jobs and colleges.
“We had fought a case in the Supreme Court to bring a law in Gujarat to save cows. Now, we want to make this law stricter. We will introduce a bill in the ongoing budget session of the assembly,” Rupani had said on March 12 in Junagadh at a function organised by Swaminarayan Sect. A significant number of Patidars, or Patels – a crucial vote bank of the BJP – are followers of this religious sect.
On March 15, Rupani again raised the issue. Speaking at a Tribal Fair in Chhota Udepur, he said, “The BJP is committed to protect Gau, Ganga and Gita (Bhagvad Gita). And, for the same we are bringing a stricter cow protection law.”
In 2011, when Narendra Modi was chief minister, the state government had imposed a complete ban on slaughtering and transportation of cow and progeny by amending the Gujarat Animal Preservation Act, 1954.
Under the act, offenders face imprisonment up to seven years and fine up to Rs 50,000. Besides, police can seize the vehicle used for transportation for six months.
Sources say that the new bill proposes life imprisonment and fine up to Rs 1 lakh for the offence. Besides, the vehicle can be confiscated permanently. The offence is also likely to be made cognizable and non-bailable