“The journey from the farm to the slaughterhouse is a nightmare for these animals,” says Gauri Maulekhi, the woman in the petition that is the origin of last week’s government notification for regulation of animal markets. While the new rule has controversial provisions of banning trading of cattle for slaughter, Maulekhi in an interview with The Indian Express gave some clarity and said that it is not about controlling the eating habits of people; but is she correct? Maulekhi says that the new rule does not say that a person cannot buy cattle for slaughter. The only restriction that the new notification imposes is that cattle for slaughter cannot be bought from ‘agricultural markets’. So, Maulekhi says, a person can always buy these directly from the farm and there is no restriction on that.
Gauri Maulekhi is a trustee of Maneka Gandhi’s (BJP leader and Minister of Women and Child Development) People for Animals. She had filed a writ in the Supreme Court in 2014 to stop the transport of animals for the five-yearly sacrifice at a temple in Bariyapur in Nepal. While serving as an adviser to Gandhi, Maulekhi has come up as a highly influential voice on animal rights over the last few years. She was one of the prime petitioners in the apex court, who had sought a ban on Jallikattu, the bull-taming sport in Tamil Nadu, which managed to keep the state on the boil for many days in 2016. IE reported that Jallikattu and cattle slaughter are only two of almost 45 cases that Maulekhi has filed. Her petitions in various courts across India are to protect animal rights, and all of them have been filed in her personal capacity. She has been associated with Maneka Gandhi’s People For Animals (PFA) organisation since its inception in 1994.
You may also like to watch:
The root of the Regulation of Livestock Market Rules, framed under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act notified last week, can be traced back to 2014, when the writ petition was filed in the Supreme Court by Maulekhi. It was against the cruelty discovered in the rampant smuggling of Indian buffaloes into Nepal for the Gadhimai festival every 5 years. Maulekhi had claimed in the petition that 5 lakh animals were killed at the temple over two days in 2009. The figure had declined to 35,000 in 2014 owing to “increased awareness and heightened security on the border,” she had added. The same year, SC had directed the Sashastra Seema Bal, a body which governs the Indo-Nepal border, that the governments of the bordering states and other Central government ministries to put a stop to the export of live cattle and buffaloes into Nepal.
Maulekhi’s first petition was in Uttarakhand High Court against the practice of animal sacrifice. Talking about the recent case, Maulekhi told IE, “Since 2009, I have been documenting every cattle market in UP, Uttarakhand, Kerala and West Bengal…(I observed) these markets were not serving farmers — there were hardly any milch cattle being traded legitimately. What was happening was wholesale trading of cattle for smuggling.”