Police book Youth Congress workers for slaughtering cow in Kerala market
Opposition have organised “beef festivals” to protest against the Centre’s recent decision to ban sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter.
Police in Kannur in north Kerala on Sunday booked 16 Youth Congress activists who slaughtered a cow in public and cooked its meat and distributed it. They were charged under IPC Section 428 and section (ii) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960.
Several youth groups of the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF and Congress-headed UDF opposition have organised these festivals to protest against the Centre’s recent decision to ban sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter, a move criticised by several states.
But Saturday’s slaughter seems to have backfired.
“It is a thoughtless act and it will only help Sangh Parivar outfits. It is sad that Youth Congress activists stooped so low for publicity,” CPI(M) member of Parliament MB Rajesh said.
Beef is a staple in Kerala and the new rules have caused widespread anger.
Though Kerala is one of the few states where cow slaughter is not banned, animal lovers said “such brazen acts” glorify cruelty towards animals and demanded action against Youth Congress activists.
The BJP, which is trying to gain a toehold in the state and won its first seat in the last year’s assembly election, also criticised the slaughtering of the animal at a busy market in the heart of Kannur while the Congress asked its cadres to use restrain during protests.
BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan tweeted the video of the slaughter, saying it was the “cruelty at its peak”.
Youth Congress activists defended their move, saying it was a natural form of protest. “The Centre is denying food to the people, it is the biggest cruelty,” Youth Congress leader Rejil Makutty said.
Police registered a case against Youth Congress activists who slaughtered a cow in public and cooked its meat. They were booked under IPC Section 428 and section (ii) of the PCA Act 1960.
The Centre’s decision, which will hurt millions of poor farmers and squeeze supplies to the country’s Rs 1 lakh-crore meat industry, is being seen as a move to push the BJP’s alleged Hindutva agenda.
Cows are considered holy by many Hindus, and have gained in importance since Prime Minister Narendra Modi stormed to power in 2014 with several BJP-ruled states enacting strict laws to punish cow slaughter.
As protest mounted in the state, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the Centre couldn’t draw up a menu and change the food habits of 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 CM said, adding the decision would leave many people jobless. The state government is talking to legal experts to challenge the notification.
Many of the ruling CPI (M) leaders come from Kannur, where the Left party is involved in a bloody turf war with the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, the ideological parent of the BJP.
In Kerala at least 500,000 people are directly or indirectly involved in cattle trade, slaughterhouses and allied areas. According to the state animal husbandry department data, 117,000 adult cattle and 70,000 young cattle were slaughtered in Kerala in 2016 where beef accounts for 60% of the total meat consumed.
Since most of the cattle come from the neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, Kerala meat traders fear that the new notification will embolden Hindu fringe outfits and hit supply leading to a shortage of meat in the state.
Cow slaughter and smuggling are banned in most parts of the country but there are no curbs on buffalo meat, which is eaten widely as a cheap source of protein.
But the new norms will also hit buffalo meat, which goes by different names globally and is also referred to as beef in India, a reason enough for the so-called cow protectors to assault people or even force shut down of eateries.