Cow slaughter now punishable with life in jail in BJP’s Gujarat
The Gujarat assembly on Friday passed a bill enhancing punishment for cow slaughter from the present seven-year jail term to life imprisonment.
The amendments -- which give Gujarat the harshest law in the country to protect cattle -- include a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh and permanent confiscation of the vehicle used for transportation. The offence is also likely to be made cognizable and non-bailable
The issue has been central theme of chief minister Vijay Rupani’s public speeches amid speculation that the party will push for an early state election.
“During this auspicious occasion of Chhetri Navratri, the government, on suggestions of several sadhu-sants, has made amendments to the Gujarat Animal Protection (Amendment) Act, 2011. This is the harshest law in the country,” said minister of state for home Pradeepsinh Jadeja.
As the move comes months before the assembly election scheduled for November-December, opposition Congress termed it politically motivated.
“This is not out of concern for cows. The BJP has passed this bill to get votes. Through this bill, it has been proved that BJP is anti-Dalit,” said Congress MLA Shaktisinh Gohi, referring to the flogging of Dalits by self-proclaimed cow vigilantes in Una last year.
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 faced imprisonment up to seven years and fine up to Rs 50,000. Besides, police could seize the vehicle used for transportation for six months.
In the past six years, even though 1,000 cases were registered every year, a long-drawn legal process and provision for bail had reduced the law to a mere lip service as not a single case had seen conviction so far.