Karnataka Assembly passes stringent anti-cow slaughter law amid ruckus

By defining beef as any flesh of cattle, the new law will bring in almost blanket ban on consumption of beef in the state.
Animal Husbandry Minister Prabhu Chavan worshiping an ox
Animal Husbandry Minister Prabhu Chavan worshiping an ox
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The Karnataka government tabled and passed the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill 2020. one of the most stringent laws against cow slaughter in the country, amid ruckus in the Assembly. As the Congress legislators walked out of the Assembly in protest, the bill was passed without any discussion on the floor of the Assembly. The Congress now says they will pursue a legal route to oppose the law that seeks a total ban on the slaughter of cows in the state.

The law has provisions for stringent punishment to those who indulge in smuggling, illegal transportation, atrocities on cows and slaughtering them. By defining beef as any flesh of cattle, the bill will bring in an almost blanket ban on consumption of beef in the state, the only exception being that buffaloes that are above 13 years old can be slaughtered.

As the Animal Husbandry Minister Prabhu Chavan tabled the bill, Congress MLAs led by leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah trooped into the well of the House. They alleged the bill was not discussed for tabling in the Business Advisory Committee meeting. "We had discussed yesterday that new bills will not be tabled. We had agreed that only the ordinances will be passed. Now he (Prabhu Chavan) has all-of-a-sudden introduced this anti-cow slaughter bill," Siddaramaiah said. The Congress has said that they will challenge the bill legally.

However, Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri said he had clearly said in the meeting that important bills will be tabled on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Congress has expressed fears that the bill, if passed, may be misused for polarisation on communal lines and target the minorities. On the other hand, the BJP has been saying the bill is to protect the cows which are holy to the Hindus. To make the provisions of the proposed law stringent, Chavan had referred to similar laws in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. A team of officials led by Chavan had recently visited Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, where the law has been enacted, to study its implementation.

Speaking to TNM after his meeting with UP CM Yogi Adityanath, Chavan had said, “In 2010 we had cleared a similar bill but the then Congress government at the Centre had made excuses to return the bill and not approve it. Now that our government is in power in keeping with the wishes of the people particularly Hindus and seers we will go ahead and bring in a law, what can the Opposition do?”

Key provisions under the new law

Under the law now tabled in the Assembly, sale and purchase of cattle for the purpose of slaughter within Karnataka and outside too will be prohibited. Transport with the intent of cattle being used in the field of agriculture or animal husbandry will be permitted. It also bans the slaughter of calves of a cow and bull, bullock, buffalo male or female and calf of a she-buffalo as well.

In what is being called a draconian provision, the law gives powers of search and seizure to the police on the basis of "reason to believe". Cattle thus seized will be handed over state-run organisations to care for the cattle. Penalty for slaughter will range from Rs 50,000 to Rs 10 lakh per cattle and three to seven years imprisonment.

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