MoEFCC directive on cattle market sparks row over beef ban

The notification issued by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) on regulation of livestock markets has ignited an acrimonious political debate in Kerala, with Left parties and the United Democratic Front terming it as a covert attempt by Sangh Parivar forces to impose a nationwide ban on cattle slaughter and the BJP alleging a smear campaign against the government.

Named the Regulation of Livestock Markets Rules 2017, the notification issued under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act stipulates the registration of animal markets and constitution of market committees and sets standards for handling and controlling the animals and monitoring their health.

The controversy centres on the restrictions prescribed on the trade of cattle for slaughter. The rules require the animal market committee to ensure that the animals are sold for agricultural purpose and not for slaughter.

Political parties opposed to the BJP see it as an attempt by the Sangh Parivar to impose its divisive agenda.

Terming it as a game plan by the RSS, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the restrictions on the sale and ban on slaughter of cattle would affect the livelihood of lakhs of poor people and deprive them of a source of food. He said the failure to consult States before issuing the notification represented an assault on the federal system. “Who can say that the ban on cattle slaughter would not be followed by a ban on consumption of fish,” he asked.

Minister for Animal Husbandry K. Raju said the decision to ban cattle slaughter was part of the RSS agenda against minorities and would hurt the interests of farmers. He said the curbs prescribed on the transport of cattle would also pose a setback to the efforts by States to increase the cattle population and improve milk production.

CPI(M) State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said the ban on cattle slaughter would lead to communal friction, affect the livelihood of millions and impact on the agricultural economy.

KPCC president M.M. Hassan said the notification was unconstitutional, an infringement of fundamental rights and a bid to create communal polarisation.

Terming the allegations as misconstrued, BJP State president Kummanam Rajasekharan said the government had not imposed a ban on cattle slaughter or dictated food habits. The rules, he said, were framed to regulate animal markets and arrest the decline in cattle population.

The notification only prohibits the sale of slaughter animals at livestock markets which are intended for farmers to buy or sell milch or draught animals, he said.

AIYF State president R. Saji Lal said the Central government, by issuing the notification, had imposed a nationwide ban on beef. He said it would create an atmosphere of hatred and tension in the country.

The Welfare Party of India said the new rules would impact on livelihoods and affect exports. Party president Hamid Vaniyambalam said it was an attempt by the Modi government to polarise communities and create a fear psychosis in the country.