Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party leader and Goa minister Sudin Dhavalikar has denied he ever raised the issue of complete ban on the killing of cows and closure of meat complexes in the coastal state, saying he was misquoted.
According to media reports, public works department minister Dhavalikar said his party, that is a part of the BJP-led coalition government in Goa, supports “total ban on cow slaughter in Goa” and that “there should not be any cow slaughter activity in the state” amid growing clamour against the killing of cows in the country.
He also demanded that the operations of state-run Goa Meat Complex Limited should also be shut, reports said.
“I was referring to cow slaughter, which is already banned here since 1978 under the Goa, Daman and Diu prevention of cow slaughter act. Also, the government should ensure that nobody breaches this law. Why will I make statements on issues which are already clear to people here? Cow slaughter is already banned in Goa,” Dhavalikar told Hindustan Times.
Dhavalikar refused to comment on the controversial issue of a beef ban in the state when asked about it.
In Goa, cows and cattle are protected under the Goa, Daman and Diu Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1978, and under the Goa Animal Preservation Act, 1995, bulls, bullocks, buffaloes can be killed only if they are certified fit for slaughter by a veterinary doctor.
Dhavalikar’s comments have come amid a raging debate on the issue and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat push for a law for a countrywide ban on cow slaughter.
After the BJP’s landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh, state’s new chief minister Yogi Adityanath ordered a ban on cow smuggling and asked police for a plan to close down illegal slaughterhouses. His counterpart in Chhattisgarh has said that anyone found committing cow slaughter in the state will be hanged.
In BJP-ruled Gujarat, which is set to go to polls at the end of this year, the assembly amended the Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 2017, to make cow slaughter a non-bailable offence with a maximum punishment of life imprisonment and up to 10 years in jail for transporting beef in the state.
According to IndiaSpend, as of March 2017, cow slaughter has been prohibited in 84% of India’s states and union territories (UTs), which account for 99.38% of the country’s population.
BJP leader and deputy speaker of the assembly Michael Lobo has said beef politics doesn’t exist in Goa.
Lobo said that the issue of ‘beef ban’ will never come in Goa as it is part of the culinary heritage of the minority community, which comprises 33% of the population, during a press conference in Panaji at the state unit of the BJP.
“Nobody talks about such issues in Goa politics,” said Lobo.
“This ban is already present in the state since long. It came when the Congress government was in power. So there is nothing new about it,” he said when asked about the demand made by the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat for a law banning cow slaughter across the country and the MGP’s support to the move.
Lobo seemed to echo BJP president Amit Shah’s statement ruling out a country-wide ban on beef, saying it is for the states to take a decision on it keeping in mind the “sentiments of the people”.
“Wherever there is BJP government, we will consider sentiments of the people before imposing a ban on beef. We have not said that we will be banning beef across the country,” Shah said in March.