Nagaland not to implement ban on sale of cattle for slaughter, says NPF minister; cites impact on food habits

The Government of Nagaland is not going to implement the Centre-imposed-ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter, a minister in the Government of Nagaland told Firstpost, stating that it would impact the traditional food habits of the people in the state where beef is a staple food.

A new government notification restricts the sale of cattle for slaughter. AFP

A new government notification restricts the sale of cattle for slaughter. AFP

"Nagaland is not going to implement this law related to cow slaughter," Imkong Imchen, Minister of Highways in the Nagaland government told Firstpost.

“There is no need for a policy (amounting) to ban cow slaughter in Nagaland,” added Imchen, who is an MLA of the ruling Naga People’s Front, which is an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA government at the Centre. The minister added that the new rules may to some extent affect the traditional food habit in Nagaland where beef is a staple food.

The statement from the Nagaland minister has come at a time when the Kerela government’s reaction to this new rule sparked made a debate across the country.

The recently-issued rules of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960, which restricts the sale of cattle for slaughter, has come as an embarrassment to the BJP ally in Nagaland, as beef is a staple food in the northeastern state.

A day earlier, the Nagaland chapter of Indian National Congress had launched a scathing attack on the ruling NPF and the BJP for initiating a communal agenda by imposing a nationwide ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter.

"The Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) has slammed BJP government at the Centre, saying that the move to impose nationwide ban on sale of cow/cattle for slaughter by taking shelter under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 was a blatant display of their communal and divisive agenda, which would not be acceptable to the Nagas,” The Nagaland Post had quoted Congress as saying.

The Congress party had also asked the NPF government “which has been the comfort party of the BJP for the past 15 years” to outrightly reject the nationwide ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter.

The ban has put the state chapter of the BJP in an awkward situation too. Earlier, the president of the state chapter of BJP, Visasolie Lhoungu, had told the media: “Ban on cow slaughter like the one in Uttar Pradesh won’t take effect in Nagaland if our party comes to power next year. The reality here is very different and our central leaders are aware of that.”

But the recent nationwide ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter has left the state unit of the saffron party faceless. Firstpost tried to contact Lhoungu several times but he did not respond.

Eduzu Thelou, the general secretary (administration) of BJP's Nagaland chapter said, "We are going to discuss the issue regarding the ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter in a meeting. Our president will express his views after the meeting.”

The BJP had been making steady inroads in the states in North East India after its first victory in the Assam Assembly election last year. Only recently, the party formed its first government in the state of Manipur, which also has a sizeable Christian population.

The recent rules banning the sale of cattle for slaughter may block the saffron party's stride in the region where three Christian dominated states Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya are heading for polls next year.

Ashok Agarwal, a lawyer in the Delhi High Court told Firstpost that the Centre cannot initiate any legal action against the state government, even if it chooses not to implement the ban on cattle slaughter since there is no such provision in the law.

In a surprise notification in The Gazette of India, issued on 23 May, the environment ministry introduced restrictions on the sale of cattle to prevent their killing.

“A notification in The Gazette of India, titled Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change states that no one can bring cattle to an animal market unless he or she has furnished a written declaration that the cattle will not be sold for the purpose of slaughter. Further, upon sale of the cattle, the animal market committee will take an 'undertaking' that the animals are for agricultural purposes and not for slaughter," reported the Hindustan Times. You can read the notification here.

Updated Date: May 29, 2017 21:14 PM

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