Maharashtra has extended a ban on killing cows to bulls and bullocks, a state government source said, in a blow to meat traders who are now considering legal action.
President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday give his assent to the long-pending Maharashtra Animal Preservation Bill, making it a law and drawing cheers from the state government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Killing cows, revered by the majority Hindu population, is legal in just two of the country's 29 states, though reports of illegal slaughter surface regularly.
The law, which media reports say calls for five years in jail and Rs 10,000 rupees for anyone violating it, will make illegal slaughters much more difficult.
"Our dream of ban on cow slaughter becomes a reality now," Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted.
Groups close to the BJP, also the party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, oppose the beef industry. Attacks on the trade, run mostly by Muslims, have intensified in Maharashtra since Modi came to power 10 months ago.
After striking for a few days last month against the alleged harassment, beef suppliers in the state were meeting lawyers on Wednesday to take legal opinion on the act.
"The new law would make many jobless and the cost of buffalo meat would rise steeply in Maharashtra as this is the only option left," said Mohammad Ali Qureshi, president of the Bombay Suburban Beef Dealers Association.