Gujarat Amends Law To Bring In Life Sentence For Cow Slaughter
Let me begin right in the beginning by stating unambiguously that if the newly elected BJP government in Uttar Pradesh led by Yogi Adityanath has launched a massive crackdown on illegal slaughter houses immediately after the Assembly polls right from the day he was sworn in as Chief Minister, another BJP ruled State, Gujarat, which goes to the polls later this year, came up with an amendment to make cow slaughter a punishable offence with a life term, which is the first in the country. Cows have traditionally been worshipped by Hindus as “Gau Mata” and even many Muslims hold it in highest esteem and treat it with full care and compassion. But in last few years we have been hearing many reports of huge slaughter of cows and this is exactly what necessitated the government of Gujarat to tighten cow slaughter law and amend it to bring in life sentence for those who slaughter cows.
While craving for the exclusive indulgence of my esteemed readers, let me say this very clearly and categorically in no uncertain terms that slaughter of cows cannot be justified under any circumstances. India is a nation where cows have been treated with utmost respect right since ancient days and this is a matter of great pride for all of us. This all the more necessitates that all such steps are taken to ensure safety of cows as is possible under the law.
Having said this, it must also be said that the Gujarat government on March 31, 2017 amended the State’s Animal Preservation Bill to entail a minimum of 10 years and a maximum punishment of life imprisonment for cow slaughter after it was passed in the State Assembly in the absence of the Opposition Congress and with the visitors’ gallery packed with saffron-clad Hindu priests. I personally don’t consider it a Hindu-Muslim question. I have seen many such Muslims who love cows more than I or any other Hindu does!
I am not talking in thin air. The best example I can cite here is Dilshad Qureshi of Meerut who did not marry and always took the lead in complaining to the police whenever he found that cow slaughter was going on illegally somewhere. But ultimately in June 2014, he himself was shot in the head by meat mafias and after battling for life for many months ultimately died in January 2015 in a hospital in Delhi! What a pity that such supreme sacrifices and that too for the sake of cow go unsung! There are many more such cases!
Truth be told, the punishment for cow slaughter under the earlier law was imprisonment ranging from three to seven years. But now it ranges from 10 to life imprisonment! The new law also make offences under the amended Act a cognizable and non-bailable which includes cow slaughter, transportation of cow or beef and beef products.
May it be added here that the amendment was cleared after the Speaker suspended members of the Congress for creating a ruckus when the Bill was passed. Speaking on the amendment, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said that, “I am not against any food.” Declaring that he wanted to make Gujarat “shakahari (vegetarian)”, Rupani said, “We do not want jersey cows, but Gir and Kankreji cows instead.”
May it also be added here that Rupani also described Gujarat as a “unique state”, which followed the tenets of Mahatma Gandhi – “non-violence and truth”. “This is Gandhi’s Gujarat, Sardar’s (Vallabhbhai Patel) Gujarat and (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi’s Gujarat,” said Rupani. Rightly said!
Be it noted, when the amendment Bill was introduced over a month ago, it had a maximum punishment of ten years imprisonment. On March 31, however, the ruling BJP decided to go ahead and moved to enhance the punishment to a life-term. In another major amendment, the Bill included a provision that vehicles caught in transporting cows, beef or beef products illegally will be forfeited to the state government.
Truly speaking, the maximum fine for the offence has also been increased from Rs 50,000 to one ranging from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. Besides, the punishment for conviction for illegal transportation of cow, beef or beef products has been increased from three years imprisonment to seven years. The Act allows transportation of animals of cow progeny with permission, but only between 7 pm and 5 am.
To put things in perspective, the statement of the Bill reads, “In the year 2011, the State Government had made certain amendments in the said Act for better implementation of the Act. It is, however, experienced while implementing the said Act that still more stringent provisions are required to be made by amending the said Act for curbing the menace of illegal slaughtering of the animals covered under the said Act to provide for more stringent punishment and effectively check the rampant use of vehicles for transporting such animals.”
Needless to say, during the discussion on the Bill, the Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja said that, “This is not a Bill, but a feeling of crores of Indians. It is my humble attempt to give voice to the cows being killed by butchers. A single drop of cow blood falling on earth pains Hindus. With this law, Vijaybhai Rupani’s government will make Gujarat cow-slaughter-free.” It is not just Hindus but people from all religions who love cows and feel terribly pained whenever they see cow dying for no fault of theirs!
Truth be told, in 2011, when Narendra Modi was Chief Minister of Gujarat, the state government had imposed a complete ban on slaughter of cows, transportation and selling of cow meat and its progeny by amending the Act. More than a 1,000 cases were registered every year since but a long-drawn legal process reduced the law to a mere lip service with not a single seeing a conviction. Finally and most importantly, if this new Bill is to be effective, this must change for the better and more convictions must be recorded. Kerala, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim are those States where there is no ban on cow slaughter. This must also end now and there must be a complete ban on cow slaughter.