Cattle smuggling, slaughter in UP now punishable under National Security Act
Cow slaughter and cattle smuggling in Uttar Pradesh will invite action under the stringent National Security Act (NSA) and Gangster Act, chief minister Yogi Adityanath said on Tuesday, giving police the power to detain people for an year on mere suspicion.
The directive to invoke the acts was issued by director general of police Sulkhan Singh on Monday, officials said.
“The decision to slap NSA and Gangster Act against cattle smugglers and cow slaughter was taken in the general interest of the state and the people,” Adiytanath told reporters.
“During assembly election people demanded ban on cow slaughter and cattle smuggling. It was also one of the election promises of the BJP. The state government will not allow anyone to take liberties with the laws,” he said.
Since sweeping to power in March, the BJP government led by the priest-turned-politician has launched what it says is a crackdown on illegal slaughter houses and cattle smuggling.
Critics say the government’s move was aimed at targeting the Muslim and Dalit communities which are mainly involved in cattle trade.
The UP government directive came days after the Centre issued a controversial rule that outlawed sale of cattle for slaughter at animal markets and triggered a political storm in India. The Madras high court later ordered a four-week stay on the notification.
Millions of Hindus consider the cow to be holy and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – the idelogical mentor of the ruling BJP – has been pushing for a countrywide ban on bovine slaughter.
Opposition parties say the Centres rule violates individual rights and will hurt millions of cattle and meat traders.
Under the NSA, the district magistrate has powers to keep a person under detention for up to a year. Under the Gangster Act, a person can be imprisoned between 2 to ten years and slapped with a fine of up to Rs 5,000 or more.
In his order, the DGP asked district police chiefs to take “strict action” to check cattle smuggling and also to activate local intelligence units for information gathering.
“Regular patrolling should be organised on highways and the police should check trucks. Genuine traders should not be harassed but smugglers should not be spared,” he said. The DGP also asked police not to extort money from transporters.
Cattle traders, however, said the state government’s decision could led to harassment.
“The new order has given immense power to the police and they may misuse it for money. The state government should constitute a committee, which should include cattle traders and farmers, to check misuse of the directives. The order may leave an adverse impact on cattle trade as well,” he said.
A government body said on Tuesday, India’s buffalo meat exports dropped by 35% in April over the March figures, mainly attributed to the crackdown in UP, the country’s largest meat producing state.
Data released by the directorate general of commercial intelligence and statistics (principal commodities) of the ministry of commerce and industry show a drop of more than 51,000 tonnes in April exports, compared to March.
(With inputs from HT Correspondent, Delhi)
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