Pushed to the corner by the ban on the sale and purchase of beef in the State, traders in Maharashtra have said they would reach out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to re-call the ban or re-consider parts of it.
In what can be considered a measure of consolation, traders demanded that the word “bullock” be brought out of the purview of new law which extended ban on slaughter of cows to bulls and bullocks.
Cow slaughter has been banned in the State since 1976 but after President Pranab Mukherjee gave his assent to the Maharashtra State Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 1995, slaughter of bulls and bullocks is also banned and punishable by five years in prison.
The traders, along with other people engaged in the beef trade, on Monday, staged a huge rally at the Azad Maidan even as a delegation of five members called upon Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
The traders have also met State Minority Minister Eknath Khadse and submitted to him a representation of their demands and reasons on why the ban should be re-considered.
N. U. Qureshi, president of the All India Jamiatul Quresh, a social organisation of the Qureshi community which is mainly associated with the profession of meat-selling, who met Mr. Khadse, pointed out that they traders were not against the ban on slaughter of cows. As a mark of solidarity, buffalo traders have boycotted work thus impacting the supply of meat in the Metropolis and other cities.
“We don'd mind the ban on cow slaughter. But bullocks are a source of living for us. By banning slaughter of bulls and bullocks they are pushing us, an entire community, to the margins. At least allow us the slaughter of bullocks,” he told The Hindu .
Mr. Qureshi said they planned to reach out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi if nothing worked at the State level. “It is a fight for livelihood. Lakhs of people run the risk of getting ruined,” he said.
Abdul Qureshi, of the Mumbai Beef Traders'Association, said the propaganda surrounding the ban was deliberately focused on the terminology "cow-slaughter" as it was “intended to stir religious feelings.”
“Even during Eid our community does not allow the slaughter of cows, we only sacrifice the bullocks. But the law clearly shows that the government is trying to adhere to the sentiments and ideology of only a particular community," he said.
The beef trader outfits, along with various farmer organisations, leather industry representatives and workers, are also working to file a petition in the Bombay High Court against the ban. Mr. N.U. Qureshi said they would soon move the court and are in consultation with senior lawyers and experts.