Shillong: The issue of banning cow slaughter has to be decided by the respective states and the Centre’s recent notification on sale of cattle has nothing to do with it, the BJP said today amid a major controversy. BJP leader Nalin Kohli, who is in-charge of the party’s affairs in Meghalaya, said the state governments can decide on cow slaughter ban keeping in view the local food habits even as he admitted that in this state, a majority of the BJP leaders eat beef. The comment assumes significance as the BJP’s Meghalaya unit has views divergent to its central leadership since its local leaders eat beef.
“The BJP is saying this clearly that the question of having a law in a state on cow slaughter is to be decided by the state and not the Centre,” Kohli told reporters here when asked about his party’s position on the North Eastern states where majority of people consume beef.
“Every state government that decides to have a law or not have a law on cow slaughter, do so keeping in mind the local food habits of that particular state and in the North East every state government will keep this in account,” he said. Kohli said the Centre’s notification banning sale of cattle in animal markets for slaughter is based on a Supreme Court order and recommendations made by a Parliamentary Committee.
“The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules 2017 is based on recommendations of a Parliamentary Committee report, which included members of all political parties and a Supreme Court order,” he said. “The notification has nothing written on cow slaughter and beef ban. Any state can decide on this and we fully respect the federal structure. How can the Centre impose on the states? The Constitution does not permit that and the Constitution is the only book the BJP follows,” said Kohli, who is a lawyer himself.
With regard to the controversy, he blamed the Congress for “deliberate, false and fabricated rumours” on social media about the notification which “did not even have a word about beef or beef ban mentioned anywhere in it”. “Can BJP be blamed for something that the Congress party enacted in 1960 following which the Supreme Court asked us (NDA government) to frame rules?
“The act is Prevention of Cruelty against Animals and the Congress framed it. If it (Congress party) wants to complain, it should complain against its leaders in the past who came up with the act,” Kohli said. He said the BJP was aware that “the dirty tricks department of the Congress is adopting a strategy of spit and run by putting out deliberate, false fabricated rumours” in the social media that has affected communal balance in Meghalaya.
“My charge is that those people spreading lies on the social media on beef issue are responsible of trying to communalize the situation,” said Kohli, who is on a visit here. He said the way Congress workers slaughtered a calf in Kerala to protest against the notification was wrong. He asked, “Is that not a communal agenda? In India, majority are Hindus. Muslims and Christians eat beef. Muslims do not eat pork, so do Jews. So the Congress, if they want to protest against the Muslims, will they slaughter a pig?”
Stating that such protests are unacceptable, Kohli said, “Are we supposed to cause pain to other religious groups in a protest and hurt the sentiments of somebody?” Prohibition of cow slaughter is also mentioned in Article 48 of the Constitution and although it is not an enforceabale article, it is a Directive Principles of State Policy and mandates the states to bring laws to ban cow slaughter, he said. On the Madras High Court staying the notification, Kohli said it has been done to see whether the notificaiton was correct under the law or not.
“If it is not correct, then questions can be asked if it is badly drafted. But when it is correct in law, can we call it today, before the court has arrived at a judgement, an indictment of the government,” he asked. He said the party has given a show cause notice to a district leader in western Garo Hills region who had reportedly announced a beef party to celebrate Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three years in office. “What he said was his personal views and my state president has sought explanation from him. How can slaughter of an animal be a ground for celebration of Prime Minister Modi’s government when the notification in itself is to prevent slaughter of animals,” he asked.