Anti-cow slaughter Bill does not help farmers, says KRRS
Special Correspondent BANGALORE: A confrontation between farmers and the Government appears to be on cards with respect to the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill with the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) on Wednesday declaring that it will not allow implementation of legislation till a special package is offered to farmer for maintenance of cows.
Addressing presspersons here, KRRS president Kodihalli Chandrashekar alleged that the above Bill had nothing to offer for the main stake holder — farmer. The State Government had taken a unilateral decision to adopt such a Bill in the Legislative Assembly ignoring the plea by farmers to hold consultations with them before adopting the Bill, he said.
He expressed concern that dairy farmers of the State were in distress as they were getting only Rs. 12.50 a litre of milk sold by them as against Rs. 26 to Rs. 28 being paid in other States, especially the northern States. He claimed that Delhi Government was providing Rs. 25 a day for cows aged over 12 years.
The State Government should also come out with such a package instead of merely banning cow slaughter, he suggested. .
Mr. Chandrashekar asserted that the KRRS would not allow acquisition of farmers' land for developing townships under the Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Project and demanded that market prices be provided for the farm land acquired for the expressway. He took exception to the KIADB asking the Deputy Commissioners to fix the compensation rate for the land which has already been acquired though there was confusion on whether the frame work agreement had been followed.
Church officials decry bill banning cow slaughter
The revered cow is a common sight in many Indian cities Christians in Karnataka say a bill the state legislature passed banning cow slaughter violates human rights and targets religious minorities such as Christians and Muslims.
Father Faustine Lobo, the Catholic Church’s spokesperson in the state, told UCA News on April 12 that the government passed the bill to target religious minorities. The pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian people’s party) now rules the state.
On April 10, a team of Hindus and Muslims sent a memorandum to state Governor Hans Raj Bharadwaj urging him not to sign the bill. Although the state legislature passed the bill on March 19, it requires the governor’s signature to become law.
While Orthodox Hindus consider the cow a god, beef is part of the regular food of most Christians, Muslims and lower-caste Hindus. Some Muslims are also engaged in the beef-processing business. The bill makes no distinction between cows and other cattle and makes slaughter of all forms of cattle including buffaloes a punishable crime. The bill also prohibits the sale, use and possession of beef and puts restrictions on the transport of cattle.
The Hindu-Muslim memorandum says the bill is “discriminatory” as it “targets the food habits of the most vulnerable and the weak,” dalit (low caste), Muslims and Christians. Bill would impact minority communities.
Some Christians also have appealed to the governor not to sign the bill.
“The government is directly hitting the minority communities with some vested interests,” Father Lobo said.
The bill empowers government officials to confiscate and seal off premises that hold beef. Merely stocking or transporting cattle is a punishable act with jail terms. Father Jose Valiaparambil, vicar general of Belthangady diocese in the state, also finds it “wrong to curtail the freedom of minorities by law. ”Banning cow slaughter “means negation of the human rights of the minorities and farmers” who rear cattle for food as a business, he asserted. However, the diocese has asked its people “not to hurt the sentiments of the Hindus on this issue” although beef is a major part of their food, the priest told UCA News.
Hindus form 84 percent of the state’s 53 million people. Muslims form 12 percent and Christians 2 percent. Defending the bill, state Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa told media that it aims to protect cows and preserve cattle wealth in the state. He also pointed out that states such as Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, and Madhya Pradesh already have similar laws.
How important are bovine animals as a source of food for humans and when are they slaughtered for food? What is the mortality rate of the bovine animals and what is its impact on the availability of beef?
Of the bovine population, only a small fraction is eaten as beef, and organised slaughter of cows and even buffaloes, is limited. Nevertheless, there are systematic differences in the mortality in different age groups between male and female animals and between cows and buffaloes. Differential mortality reflects partly the difference in feeding and care (more common among young animals), and partly selective disposal of different categories of animals (pronounced among older animals).
It is well documented that farmers dispose of old and decrepit animals in large numbers. Studies also show that there is an organised trade to buy such animals, which are transported to regions where there is a high demand for beef or to areas where raw hide is produced for the tanning industry. For example, in the 1970s, as many as one million head of cattle were brought into Kerala from the other southern States. That there is a huge trade across the Rajasthan border into Pakistan and the West Bengal border into Bangladesh is also well known though not quantified. It is also important to note that most of this trade is in cattle.
What would be the impact of the recent Bill banning cow slaughter on the economy?
Letting animals die because of calculated neglect by farmers or selling them fully aware that they will end up being slaughtered are both inconsistent with religious veneration of the cow. But the fact is that this contradiction exists. These practices will continue with or without the anti-cow slaughter law. Attempts to stop them will have to contend with opposition and resistance from those engaged in the trade, the tanning industry, which gets a substantial part of its raw material by this process, and the sizable number of people employed in these industries directly and in supporting activities. It will also have an adverse effect on the export of leather and leather products. Nor will the farmers (mostly subsistence farmers) take enthusiastically to shutting out the possibility of earning some modest amounts by disposing of their old animals. Mere legislation, which ignores the forces underlying the present situation, is unlikely to be effective. Effective enforcement in a situation where violations are so widespread and involve such large numbers of actors is both practically difficult and prohibitively costly. One can confidently predict that, as in so many other cases, the law will not be enforced and those involved will defy it with impunity or find ways round it. The wiser course would be to recognise that the behaviour of farmers is only an attempt to manage their cattle and buffalo stock to their best economic advantage, unmindful of the contradiction with their religious attitude to the cow. On the other hand, it is a waste of a valuable resource, the products of which have a potential demand in significant sections of the population within and outside the country. If properly managed, the economic value of these resources can be greatly increased. The focus should, therefore, be not on banning slaughter, but on regulating it and creating an environment which permits and encourages the realisation of its potential for increased supply of beef protein to those who want it within the country or for export and for improving the quality of leather and leather products for both domestic and export markets.
Full interview with Dr Vaidyanathan here: