Fearing a loss of livelihood on account of the BJP government’s proposal to bring an amendment to the Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation Bill in the ensuing Legislature session, beef merchants from different parts of the State gathered here on Saturday and decided to share their concern with Governor H.R. Bhardwaj, Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and Opposition leaders.
The beef merchants gathered under the aegis of Beef Merchants Association of Karnataka at Shivajinagar in the City, voiced their anxiety over the penal provisions of a proposed piece of legislation for carrying out their occupation. “Thousands of families in the State, who are dependent on not only the slaughter of cattle and sale of beef, but also the ones who trade in animal skin and bones will be thrown to the streets,” said President of the Association Khasim Ajaz Quraishi.
A delegation of beef merchants will shortly submit a memorandum to the Governor and Chief Minister besides former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda and leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah.
Speaking to reporters, Mr. Quraishi made it clear that the beef merchants never indulged in slaughtering cows, which is prohibited under the existing anti-Cow Slaughter Act that is in force since 1964. “We were slaughtering only bullocks and buffalos, aged above 12 years, in the presence of veterinarians deputed by the Animal Husband Department,” he said, before adding that the definition of cattle in the proposed Act now includes bull, bullock and buffalo.
Also, the permits envisaged in the proposed piece of legislation for sale, possession, transport and disposal of cattle are aimed at “troubling” the merchants as well as the farmers, who sell the cattle. Mr. Quraishi referred to the penal action stipulated for violation the provisions of the Bill and said the slaughter of cattle has been made a non-bailable offence, punishable with imprisonment ranging between one and seven years and fine between Rs. 25,000 and Rs. 50,000.
Though slaughtering of the cattle is carried largely by Muslims, beef is consumed by a large percentage of the poor people for its nutritional value. A large section of Dalits and Christians too consume beef. “Besides, the persons engaged in the trade of skin and bones of cattle belong to the upper castes,” Mr. Quraishi said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ameen Khasim, who is also a member of the Association, said the BJP Government has no communal issue on its agenda presently. “Hence, they wish to stoke divisive fires among different communities by bringing up such a Bill. The provisions of the Bill will invariably lead to skirmishes while the cattle is being transported. This unnecessarily causes communal tensions,” he said.
Not a Hindu-Muslim issue
The proposed amendment to the Act even figured during the anti-imperialism campaign taken up for the Jamaat E Islami Hind in Bangalore, attended by its national President Mr. Jalaluddin Ansar Umri. “It should not be considered a Hindu-Muslim issue. Beef is a poor man’s protein,” he said before criticising the State Government’s decision in the regard. “Even if the Act is passed, it will be difficult for the State Government to implement it,” he said.