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MHA quotes Buddha’s order, asks Mamata Banerjee govt to relocate cattle markets away from Bangladesh border

The Centre has asked the Bengal government to relocate five markets in three districts. The state government is unlikely to follow the request.

kolkata Updated: Jul 05, 2017 13:15 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
Cow,Cattle Market,West Bengal
The markets that the Centre wants relocated are in North 24 Parganas, Nadia and Murshidabad districts.(HT Photo)

The Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) has quoted a 14-year old order for the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government to ask the Mamata Banerjee administration to shift five cattle markets beyond 8 km from the Indo-Bangladesh border since the presence of the markets near the international border is creating hurdles for the Border Security Force (BSF) to tackle smuggling from India to Bangladesh.

The administrative order was passed in 2003 by the state government in consultation with the Centre to shift the cattle markets beyond eight kms over a period of five-six years. But it remained unimplemented as by 2008-09 the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government was in turmoil following land agitation in Singur and Nandigram.

Read: No need to follow Centre’s order banning cattle sale, Mamata tells Bengal officials

Sources in the state secretariat told HT that chief minister Mamata Banerjee is reluctant to abide by the Center’s request. She thinks relocation of these traditional markets will cause immense incovenience to the traders.

The relation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is passing through an all-time low. (HT Photo)

On June 2, the state government received a letter from the MHA directing it to implement the 2003 order. The markets in question are Pakua (Nadia district), Dhulian and Krishnapur (Murshidabad) and Panchpota and Katihat (North 24 Parganas).

“If the Centre insists on relocation, the chief minister will again get the opportunity of alleging that the Union government is interfering in state’s affairs,” said a bureaucrat who requested anonymity.

The subject of cattle markets is especially sensitive in Bengal as this state has served as the gateway to smuggling of the animal to Bangladesh and of the estimated 1.8 million to 2 million animals smuggled, most of it goes through the border of Bengal.

Read: Beef politics: Mamata, Pinarayi Vijayan up ante against cattle trade rules

There are 20 cattle markets throughout Bengal, but only five fall within eight kilometers from the Indo-Bangladesh border. Incidentally, the biggest cattle market is in Pandua of Hooghly district.

BSF personnel patrolling the Bangladesh border in West Bengal. Stretches of the border are still unfenced that are used by cattle smugglers for their trade. (HT Photo)

On May 26, the Union ministry of environment, forests & climate change came out with a notification banning cattle trade in open market throughout the nation for the purpose of slaughtering. However, Mamata Banerjee, vehemently opposed it and said that the Union government deliberately came out with the notification during the Ramzan month to create communal disturbance.

“They have the temerity to say where cattle markets will be located,” Mamata Banerjee said at a press conference.

Incidentally, that order prohibits setting up of a cattle market within 50 kms of international borders.

Read: RSS Muslim wing to hold cow milk parties for Iftar, says healthier than beef

Like Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vaijayan, Mamata Banerjee also asserted that her government will not implement the Centre’s May 26 order. The chief minister also said that the she would try to forge a consensus among all non- BJP and non- NDA forces to get united in opposing the ban notification. “I am sure than any secular party would oppose this ban,” she said.

The association of tanneries also opposed the ban, claiming that the order will spell doom for the leather industry that has huge export potentials.

On Tuesday, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority came out with figures showing India’s buffalo meat exports in April 2017 declined 11.4% to 86,119 tonnes from what it was a year back.

First Published: Jun 06, 2017 17:31 IST