The Assam Legislative Assembly passed the Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021, amid chaos in the House, with opposition members staging a walkout after their demand for the bill to be sent to a select committee was not taken into account.
Conditions of cow slaughtering
According to the bill, cows can only be slaughtered with government approval and in licenced slaughterhouses.
However, such establishments are prohibited from operating within a five-kilometer radius of temples, xatras, or locations where non-beef eaters are the majority. Cow flesh cannot be sold or purchased in such areas. Calves and cows under the age of 14 cannot be slaughtered.
The measure also prohibits the transfer of animals within and outside of the state without prior approval from the government.
Violation of the law would be punishable
Any infraction would be a non-bailable offence, with sentences ranging from three to eight years in prison.
It would build communal harmony
While introducing the law, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma stated that it will contribute to the development of communal peace.
“In lower Assam and Barak Valley, there have been several incidents of violence between communities due to cow slaughter and beef being found in temples. Our bill has no ill intensions. No good Muslim has opposed it,” Assam CM said.
Initiative of the bill
Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi first presented the law in his welcome speech on the first day of the Assembly after the BJP’s second term in power began last June. He claimed it was necessary to safeguard the “holy animal” that gives us “life-sustaining milk.”
Suggestions of the opposition
The opposition has proposed at least 75 amendments to the new measure and demanded that it be referred to a House select committee.
“According to statistics, there are 19.327 crore cows in Assam. Cows are not endangered animals. Why are laws being sought for conservation?” All India United Democratic Front legislator Aminul Islam said.
He claimed that the administration had only looked at the issue from a religious standpoint.
Assam is known to be an epicentre of a cow-smuggling nexus. The animal is frequently trafficked to Bangladesh across the state’s porous borders in the south, Karimganj, and the west, Dhubri and South Salmara. Some traffickers utilise the Meghalaya and West Bengal routes to transport the animals to Bangladesh.