Only an elite minority of the Hindu community that constitutes the majority of India’s population, worships the cow. But cow slaughter has been banned for quite some time in almost all states except Kerala, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Goa.
In the states where BJP is presently in power, slaughtering the revered animal and distributing or consuming cow meat has been made a legal offence that brings a rigorous life sentence and penalty. After the Modi government came to power, the RSS-backing Ministers put off all other agenda and are in the process of forming legislatures that make not only the cow slaughter, but also killing the bulls and buffalos and transporting their meat, a severe crime. When Hindutwa hardliner priest Yogi Adityanath became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, he ordered closure of illegal slaughter houses across the state. The officials and lawmakers who were directed to implement the order rushed to close down all the slaughter houses regardless of whether they were illegal or not, including mechanized abattoirs. Meat sellers have gone on a strike protesting against the crackdown which cannot be justified. According to the reports in 2015-16, the meat exports that brought in a foreign revenue of at least 11, 350 crore into the country have come to a halt. The excuse given by the saffron government for including bulls and buffalos into the list of holy cows was the declining number of cattle in the state.
However, authentic reports prove it wrong. According to the estimates in 2012, a 28 per cent growth in the number of cattle was recorded. A 10 per cent rise in the number of cows were also registered in 2007. India is the largest exporter of beef in the world. The country’s meat industry comes to 500 crore dollars. Indian beef is cheaper compared to that of Brazil and Australia, the reason why it has a higher market value. The massive crackdown on the meat industry has brought to a standstill the livelihood of 25 lakh people, mostly the poor and the marginalized. Cow worship couldn’t be seen as a reason for the senseless move. It’s because buffalos and other cattle are nobody’s objects of worship. Other justifications given in this regard also doesn’t hold true because BJP leader Manohar Parrikar who assumed office as Chief Minister in Goa, isn’t even mouthing a word about banning cow slaughter. BJP state unit president of Nagaland, Visasolie Lhoungu, says that things are different in the state. In Mizoram, leader of the saffron party JV Hluna has similar things to say. Meghalaya’s BJP president also assures that there would be no ban on animal slaughter and meat consumption.
Down south in Kerala, N. Sree Prakash, the BJP candidate who is contesting by-elections to Malappuram Lok Sabha seat, promises quality beef if elected. On the other hand, when Narendra Modi banned cow slaughter earlier in Gujarat, his successor has made cow slaughter punishable with life imprisonment. Smuggling cows will lead to ten years of imprisonment. The reason is obvious. Assembly elections are due in Gujarat. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh doesn’t seem to be content with all these moves. He will probably stop only by hanging those who kill cows. It’s amid the outcries to abolish death penalty gain momentum around the world and within the country that Raman Singh utters such nasty remarks. In India majority of the Hindus sell their cattle to abattoirs as well as consume meat, farmers struggle hard to take care of their emaciated cattle and the hapless creatures are ill-treated in the name of gaushalas. There is no satisfying answer as to why such a ridiculous move is implemented in the country, a move unprecedented across the world, something which would bring only losses. Nobody could be blamed if they suspect a clandestine agenda of harassing and torturing the religious minorities and leaving them to starve, working behind the beef ban and the rigorous punishment for violating the ban. What should it be comprehended as when even those who claim to be secularists fail to come forward to voice against the injustice? Is it a sign of cowardice or defeat?