Indian Buffalo Meat Facts XIII

Indian Buffalo Meat Facts XIII

The data indicates that Chhattisgarh is indeed able to save all its cattle, both cows and buffaloes, and buffalo herd of the state has a healthier more normal gender and age composition.

This is largely because of the clarity with which the ‘Chhattisgarh Agricultural Cattle Preservation Act, 2004’ is drafted and the commitment with which it is being implemented. The Act was passed in 2004 to replace the much weaker Act of 1959 and was brought into force in 2006.

The Chhattisgarh Act runs into just 2 printed pages and has been drafted with precision without introducing confusing exceptions and provisos.

That clarity and precision begins with the definitions, which state that

“In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,–

(a) ‘Beef’ means flesh of Agricultural cattle;

(b) ‘Agricultural cattle’ means an animal specified in the Schedule; …’

And the Schedule lists Agricultural Cattle as:

  1. Cows of all ages.
  2. Calves of cows and of she buffaloes.
  3. Bulls.
  4. Bullocks.
  5. Male and Female buffaloes.

The operative sections of the Act prohibit slaughter of all agricultural cattle; possession of the beef of any agricultural cattle; and, transport of agricultural cattle ‘for the purpose of its slaughter… or with the knowledge that it will be or is likely to be, so slaughtered’.

In all of this, the Act introduces no exceptions, no provisos, no loopholes.

The corresponding “Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955”, on the other hand begins with obfuscation in its very title. Unlike the Chhattisgarh Act, the title mentions ‘Cow’ and not ‘Agricultural Cattle’ in general. This old Act has been made much stronger through various amendments, particularly the last amendment carried out in 2002. Yet, it fails to have the precision and clarity of the Chhattisgarh Act.

The exceptions and provisos begin with the definitions. The Act defines ‘beef’ to mean ‘flesh of cow but does not include such flesh contained in sealed containers and imported as such into Uttar Pradesh’. Why flesh of cow alone and not ‘all agricultural cattle’? And why that exception for flesh contained in sealed containers?

Later in Section 5, the Act introduces ridiculous exceptions to the prohibition of the sale of beef. Prohibition on transport of cows is ‘except under a permit issued by an officer authorised by the State Government’, thus making it no prohibition at all.

In the original Act, even the main section prohibiting slaughter was subject to several exceptions and provisos, which have been thankfully removed.

The Uttar Pradesh Act needs to be amended in the light of the Chhattisgarh Act. There is no reason to make invidious distinctions between agricultural cattle of one species and the other. There is no reason to protect the cow and allow the buffalo to be killed. And there is no reason to make exceptions to the prohibition on possession and selling of beef or to the transport of cattle for the purpose of slaughter.

These exceptions not only weaken the efforts to protect agricultural cattle, but also lead to endless litigation and social tensions. All the public conflicts that have been reported in recent times have their roots in these various exceptions written into the UP Act.

Amending the “Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955” thus has become essential for the maintenance of public order in the State. Such amendment should be among the first priorities of the new government led by Yogi Adityanath.

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