March 21, 2018

India's limits on selling cattle could hurt industry, diets

31 May 2017, 12:58 | Rex Hubbard

South Indian court orders 4 week stay on cow slaughter rules

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The central government has issued a new notification that bans sale of cattle for slaughter and only allows sale for dairy production and agricultural purposes.

In Kochi, Tourism and Devaswom minister of India Kadakampally Surendran participated in a "beef fest", where bread and beef curry was served.

After strident criticism and protests in many states over its decision to ban the trade of cattle for slaughter, the centre is reportedly considering a revision to its order to exclude buffaloes from the new restrictions.

At the same time, buyers of cattle at animal markets will have to verify they are agriculturalists and declare that they will not sell the animal/s for a period of six months from the date of purchase. Prime Minister Narendra Modi a year ago criticised the vigilantes, saying such people made him "angry".

In New Delhi, supporters of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday protested the killing of cows in Kerala and other parts of the country.

The slaughter industry stabilised after the strike but the latest order has unsettled trade again, said Priya Sud, partner at Al Noor Exports, which operates abbatoirs in Uttar Pradesh.

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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the centre was "encroaching upon state matters" with such orders.

He said it violated India's federal constitution and also violated "the basic right of a person to freedom of choice regarding his food".

Hindus, who form 80 percent of India's 1.3 billion people, consider cows to be sacred, and for many eating beef is taboo. India has the highest number of vegetarians in the world as a result of Hinduism's predominance, although not all Hindus are vegetarians. Some impose up to life imprisonment for infringements. Hindu hardliners and cow vigilante groups have been increasingly asserting themselves since Modi's Hindu nationalist government came to power in 2014.

He said the restrictions could cost a significant percentage of the estimated 2.5m jobs tied directly to the meat industry, most held either by Muslims or the country's discriminated-against Dalit caste. State governments and industry bodies have criticized the ban as a blow to beef and leather exports that will also leave hundreds of thousands jobless and deprive millions of Christians, Muslims and poor Hindus of a cheap source of protein.

The plan continues to horrify India's significant Muslim minority.

FILE - In this Sunday, March 26, 2017, file photo, Mehta, 40, stands at a slaughter house where he used to work after it was shutdown by authorities in Allahabad, India.

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