Kerala explores legal options against new cattle trade rule, outfits hold beef fests

Updated on May 27, 2017 07:54 PM IST

Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan shot off a letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying the Centre cannot change the food habits of the people.

Youth organisations, including Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) and the Youth Congress, organised beef festivals at many places in Kerala.(HT PHOTO)
Youth organisations, including Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) and the Youth Congress, organised beef festivals at many places in Kerala.(HT PHOTO)
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram | By, Thiruvananthapuram

The Left-ruled Kerala is exploring legal options to tide over the Centre’s new regulation on cattle trade even as several youth outfits organised beef festivals at many places on Saturday in protest.

The new rule, among others, bans trade of cattle for slaughter through animal markets besides restricting their sale for agricultural purposes and taking the animals out of the state without proper approval.

The rule will hurt millions of poor farmers and squeeze supplies to the country’s Rs 1 lakh-crore meat industry besides affecting sectors which derive products from cattle carcass.

Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan shot off a letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying the Centre cannot prepare the menu and change the food habits of the people.

“Today it is saying you can’t eat beef, tomorrow it can say no to fish also. We will not allow this to happen in our state,” the chief minister said, warning that the move will render many jobless.

The state government has approached legal experts to explore ways to check the new notification.

Many youth organisations, including Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) and the Youth Congress organised beef festivals at many places.

“The government is enforcing the agenda of RSS. It is out to vitiate the secular fabric of the country,” said DYFI all-India president Mohamed Riaz while inaugurating a beef festival outside the state secretariat.

The Congress will observe a black day on Monday.

Cows are considered holy by many Hindus, and have gained in importance since Prime Minister Narendra Modi stormed to power in 2014 as several BJP-ruled states enacted strict laws to punish cow slaughter.

Meat traders now fear that the new notification will embolden Hindu fringe outfits in neighbouring states and they will disrupt transportation of animals to the state. There are 44 cattle markets across the state and hundreds of truck loads reach these markets from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

“Many truck drivers now refuse to carry cattle fearing attack. The state will face a big shortage if transportation is disrupted in neighbouring states,” said Kerala Cattle Merchants’ Association president K H Kamaluddin.

In Kerala, the annual demand of red meat is 2.3 lakh metric tonne. Since cattle are not reared in a big way in the state, animals are ferried from other states regularly.

According to an estimate of the state animal husbandry department, Kerala requires 500 tonnes of animals and poultry a day, with about 70% of the 3.25 crore population being non-vegetarian.At least 11.7 lakh adult cattle and 70,000 young cattle were slaughtered in the state last year where beef accounts for 60 per cent of the total meat consumed.

At least five lakh people in the state are directly or indirectly involved in cattle trade, slaughter houses and allied areas.

“Most of the employees have been engaged in the trade for many generations. The government can’t make them jobless on one fine morning,” a spokesman of the State Meat Dealers’ Association said, hoping that the state government will come out with a legislation “to help us”.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Ramesh Babu is HT’s bureau chief in Kerala, with about three decades of experience in journalism.

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