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Cow slaughter is banned. What’s the demand?

13 Apr 2017 11:27pm IST
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13 Apr 2017 11:27pm IST

The confusion between a ban on cow slaughter and a ban on beef needs to be cleared.

The confusion between a ban on cow slaughter and a ban on beef needs to be cleared. There is a 1978 Act in force in Goa that prohibits the slaughter of cows in the State. The beef that is sold in Goa and that Goans eat is buffalo meat or meat of oxen. The cattle heads that are slaughtered at the Goa Meat Complex are buffaloes that are tested by veterinary doctors and cleared for slaughter and the sale of their meat. There are no cows slaughtered in Goa, nor have there been for the past almost four decades. 

Goa already has some very specific laws that govern the slaughter of animals in the State. There are actually three such laws. They are the Goa Animal Preservation Act, 1955 that permits the slaughter of only those animals that are no longer useful, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, and The Goa Daman and Diu Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1978 that bans the slaughter of cows. So since a law on cow slaughter already exists and is in force, what exactly are the politicians now demanding?

Their demand for a ban on cow slaughter in Goa when such a ban already exists exposes their ignorance of the existing laws. Ironically, while MGP is demanding a ban on cow slaughter, it is their party government that introduced and passed the Bill banning cow slaughter in the 1970s, making Goa among the first in the country to make the slaughter of cows illegal.

What we are seeing today in the State is what can be described as ‘beef politics’ and it has been playing around in Goa at regular intervals in the last few years. Two years ago, in March 2015 butchers and beef shops and stalls across Goa had downed their shutters because the supply of beef had dried up. Soon after the Food and Drugs Administration had issued notices to shops operating without valid registrations and licences giving them 10 days to comply with all formalities. The shops had also been asked to ensure proper sanitation and hygienic practices. 

Two years earlier in 2013, the slaughter of animals had been temporarily banned at the Goa Meat Complex following a high court order, leading to non-availability of beef for a while in the State. The order had come following a petition by the Govansh Raksha Abhiyaan in the High Court of Bombay at Goa alleging irregularities at the Goa Meat Complex which is the only abattoir in the State. And now two years later come the voices seeking a beef ban.

This affects Goa quite a bit as about a third of the Goan population consumes beef and so do many of the tourists that visit the State. Almost all of it comes from outside the State, even the animals that are slaughtered at the Goa Meat Complex are brought into Goa by traders from the neighbouring States. The consumption on a single day, depending on the season, varies between 30 to 50 tonnes, and works out to around 500 animals. Given these high quantities, a beef ban will affect the eating patterns of a large number of people in Goa, and political parties are doing nothing but attempting to gain some political dividends from this.

But, there is no unanimity in this. There appear to be widely differing views among the parties in government on animal slaughter and beef sale. While the MGP is for a complete ban on animal slaughter, the BJP in the State does not want to talk of this, while Goa Forward maintains that such a ban cannot work in Goa. The government needs to speak in one voice on this and let the people know its view on beef sale in Goa.

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