The raging row over ban on sale of cattle for slaughter at animal markets kept the political pot on the boil today, with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee declaring her government will not accept it. She called the ban imposed by the Modi government “undemocratic and unconstitutional”, and said it would be challenged legally.
Protests were organised in several parts of Tamil Nadu and the opposition DMK threatened to launch an agitation on May 31.
Meanwhile, three Youth Congress workers, including its Kannur district president were today suspended by the party for slaughtering a calf in public after its video went viral on social media and triggered outrage, in an apparent damage control exercise.
“It is a deliberate attempt to encroach on the state’s powers. It is undemocratic, unconstitutional and unethical. It is also an attempt to destroy the federal structure of the country,” Banerjee told journalists in Kolkata.
“We are not accepting the ban. We will challenge it legally. We will consult the state’s Advocate General on this matter. I will request the Centre not to interfere with the state’s matter and destroy the federal structure,” Banerjee said.
Protests were held in several parts of Tamil Nadu, including Madurai, Coimbatore, Erode and Hosur. Several activists of a little known pro-Tamil outfit were detained in Madurai where they had organised a beef eating contest.
A group of students at IIT, Madras, held a ‘beef-fest’ on their campus last night.
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Raising the pitch on the issue, opposition parties urged the AIADMK government to enact a law against the ban.
DMK slammed the E K Palaniswami government for “keeping mum” on the matter when neighbouring Kerala and Karnataka had vehemently opposed the ban.
DMK working president M K Stalin will lead a protest on May 31 in Chennai against the ban, the party said, adding “the fundamental right to choice of food granted by the Constitution has been snatched away”.
Meanwhile, three Youth Congress workers–Kannur YC district president Rijil Makkutty and activists Joshi Kandathil and Sharafuddin–were suspended and the party distanced itself from the incident in which a calf was slaughtered in full public view.
Kerala BJP president Kummanam Rajasekharan had posted the video of the incident on twitter, calling it “cruelty at its peak”.
Later, police registered a case for slaughtering a calf in public during ‘beef fests’ organised across Kerala by the Congress and the Left on Sunday to protest the Centre’s ban.
The AICC in-charge of communications, Randeep Surjewala, said such action by Congress workers was “completely unacceptable” and “alien to civil society, our culture and founding principles”.
“Anybody who has done so will have no place in the party and that’s why the workers have been already suspended by the Youth Congress,” he said in New Delhi.
“Such elements have no place in the Congress or in our culture. Indian culture is not to cause harm to any living being, much less to the holy cow which we all celebrate and revere,” he said, in an apparent attempt to contain the adverse fallout of the incident.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had yesterday termed the incident “thoughtless and barbaric”. The BJP denounced the Kerala incident as “shameful” and “provocative”.
“This is shameful and in many ways provocative. Political opposition happens but it is unfortunate that such an act has been committed happened, that too by youth Congress workers. It is unfortunate,” Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters in New Delhi.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath questioned the “silence” of secular parties on the Kerala incident.
“I feel there is a lot of talk in the country to respect each others feelings and several organisations demand this in the name of secularism. But why are they silent on the Kerala incident?” he asked at a public felicitation by the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad in Lucknow last night.
“Why are the people who staged vociferous protests over the incidents in DU and JNU silent on the issue?” Adityanath, who had ordered strict enforcement on the ban on cow slaughter and a crackdown on illegal slaughter houses soon after coming to power, said.
Even as the BJP and Adityanath denounced the Kerala incident, a senior BJP leader of Garo hills in Meghalaya tried to allay fears over a beef ban in the state which will have assembly polls next year.
“In Meghalaya, most of the BJP leaders eat beef. The question of banning beef does not arise in a state like Meghalaya, especially in Garo Hills. BJP leaders in Meghalaya are well aware of the historical background and the constitutional provisions in the hill areas for which beef ban will remain un-imposed,” BJP’s Tura district president Bernard N Marak in a statement.
Speaking to a national TV news channel, Marak went a step ahead and said if voted to power the BJP would make efforts for bringing down beef prices in the state which were prohibitive.
“We stand on the hills of three sisters (Garo, Khasi and Jaintia) which are constitutionally autonomous. These three sisters will decide what to ban and not to ban in their own land. Centre cannot dictate dos and don’ts in the scheduled areas as these areas do not fall under the regular regulations,” he said.