Cow slaughter: India

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India's leather industry, 2011-15; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, November 17, 2015

This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.



Muslim opposition to cow slaughter

c.1470 A.D.: Zain-ul-Abidin banned cow slaughter in J&K

Post-Bihar, Budshah’s beef lesson for India| DEC 01, 2015| Kashmir Observer

What is identical between a fifteenth century Kashmiri king and the BJP governments of Maharashtra and Haryana? All banned beef. Only difference is that king was Sultan Ghiyas-ud-Din Zain-ul-Abidin (1420-70), also known as Budshah, and he had banned the cow slaughter in the state in deference to the religious sentiment of his Hindu subjects.

According to Jonaraja, a Kashmir Pandit historian of the era, Budshah, the great monarch stopped the killing of cows, restricted the eating of beef and catching of fish in the sacred springs of the Hindus, a practice which continues till this day.The king also abstained from eating meat on Hindu festivals.

Several Mughal kings had banned cow slaughter


Rashtriya Swayam sevak Sangh (R S S) has come up with proof from the past to deduce that Muslims have shunned beef. In a booklet, compiled articles which say that barring a few, most Muslim kings had willingly banned cow slaughter and punished violations.

A daily reported that the booklet ‘Cow and Islam’ talks about an accommodative “Muslim rule” in medieval India.

Babur asked his son Humayun not to allow cow slaughter in deference to Hindus’ feelings, said the booklet.

It added that Babur is said to have “taken over” his son’s disease before his death, and claims that some Gau Mahima (cow glory) behind this incident may have impelled him to instruct Humayun to act against cow slaughter.

It added that Akbar followed the good practice and “enjoyed ghee and curd”. In fact, even Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor, banned cow slaughter, it added.

Another article says Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti of Ajmer brought back to life a poor woman’s dead cow.

Early 1900s: Maulanas issue fatwas against cow slaughter

Voices that put harmony over discord

Prior to Maulana Abdul Bari Ferangi Mahali, his ancestors had twice issued appeals to their followers against cow slaughter on Bakrid, declaring that it was not an obligation under Islam. In the early 1900s, Maulana Abdul Hai Ferangi Mahali (Bari's cousin), Maulana Abdul Wahab (Bari's father), Qazi Syed Mohammad Hasan, and Maulana Abul Haya Mohammad Abdul Hameed had issued fatwas stating cow slaughter is not obligatory and those giving it up will not be sinners--as mentioned in `Tark-e-Qurbani-e-Gao', the book by Khwaja Hasan Nizami Dehelvi printed in August 1921. In 1911, Maulana Hai and Maulana Wahab signed another fatwa stating that if cow slaughter hurts sentiments and creates disharmony, it should be given up, for it is not a part of Islamic law.

Early 1900s Lucknow: Maulana Abdul Bari’s decision

Lucknow's Muslims said no to cow killing 100 years ago, TNN | Sep 12, 2016, The Times of India

Adnan Abdul Wali, a descendant of Maulana Abdul Bari Ferangi Mahali in the cityAdnan Abdul Wali, a descendant of Maulana Abdul Bari Ferangi Mahali in the city

LUCKNOW: Muslims in Lucknow had voluntarily given up cow slaughter on Eid-ul-Zuha (Bakrid) almost a century ago, long before the Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act of 1955 was even thought of.

The practice that has been kept alive ever since, was also validated by the Sri Dharma Bharat Mahamandal, established in 1887 by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, and by Mahatma Gandhi in his letter to the Mumbai edition of the Times of India on September 6, 1919.

Under the leadership of Maulana Abdul Bari Ferangi Mahali, a freedom fighter and prominent figure of the Khilafat Movement along with the Ali brothers, a wave of abstinence from cow slaughter during Bakrid started to build. Previous efforts had also been made by Bari's ancestors, but were marred time and again.

Penning his conversation with Maulana Bari, Mahatma Gandhi (who referred to Bari as his brother) in his letter to TOI also emphasised how the step was unconditional and how the Maulana enjoyed massive following, even though Hindus were unwilling to support the Khilafat movement. And as the Mahatma writes, true to his word, the Maulana after his conversation with Gandhi, started "preaching amongst his followers and friends the necessity of abstaining from cow-killing." That very day in 1919, Gandhi had also received a telegram from Maulana Bari (that is referred to in the letter) stating: "In celebration of Hindu-Muslim unity, no cow sacrifices in Ferangi Mahal this Baqreid-Abdul Bari."

And not just in Ferangi Mahal, a letter to Maulana Bari on January 10, 1920 from the Sri Bharat Dharma Mahamandal thanked him profusely for his "efforts through speech and abstention himself, that in the days of Baqreid there was no cow-killing in Lucknow."

A Sufi and an Aalim (scholar), as author and historian, Gail Minault wrote in her book 'The Khilafat Movement', Bari had "religious influence over a variety of followers, and a large group of disciples from the Northwest to Bengal to Madras."

But it was not out of pressure that the unifying step was adopted by Muslims under his leadership. In his speech at a Hindu-Muslim conference on January 15, 1920 in Saharanpur, Maulana Bari had said, "No Hindus, nor Mahatma Gandhi have requested me to stop cow slaughter, but with my own heartfelt desire for unity and not to hurt the sentiments of my Hindu brothers, I have stopped doing so."

Later, following Bari's footsteps, some senior members of the Muslim League had also agreed to avoid cow slaughter during Bakrid in other parts of the state too.

1920 Congress meeting

Ramu Bhagwat, R-S-S founder had proposed cow slaughter ban at 1920 Congress meeting: Bhagwat, June 9, 2017: The Times of India

R-S-S chief Mohan Bhagwat said that Sangh founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar was a staunch Congress worker before he founded the R-S-S in 1925. “In 1920, the All India Congress Committee session was held in Nagpur and Hedgewar was given the task to make its arrangements. Mahatma Gandhi presided over it and it was Hedgewar who proposed a resolution for ban on Gau Vansh (progeny) slaughter,“ he said.

1930s: Savarkar opposed cow worship

Vaibhav Purandare, The Cow And Savarkar, June 9, 2017: The Times of India

Where the bovine is not divine but the framework is still hardline Hindutva

In the mid-1930s, the editor of famous Marathi journal Bhaala posed a question to all Hindus and answered it himself.“Who is a real Hindu? One who regards the cow as his mother!“ Vinayak Damodar Savarkar or `Veer' Savarkar, as the fiery Indian revolutionary from Nashik had come to be then known after his attempted escape from British captivity in Marseilles and more than a decade in the Andamans' Cellular Jail, responded to this assertion. He wrote: “If the cow's a mother to anybody at all, it's the bullock. Not the Hindus.Hindutva, if it has to sustain itself on a cow's legs, will come crashing down at the slightest sign of a crisis.“

Savarkar is known today as the author of the 1923 work Hindutva, the seminal text for Hindu nationalists, but what he is little known for is his staunch opposition to cow worship. The cow was, for him, a highly useful animal. But its worship, he argued, made no sense because humans needed to worship something or someone who was superhuman or endowed with super-human qualities, not an “out-and-out“ animal inferior to humankind.

He called for the abandonment of the “naïve practice“ because it was “buddhi hatya“ or “murder of the intellect“. He was not against the nurturing of cows and in fact assiduously promoted the principle of nurture as a “national duty“, so long as it was predicated on broader economic and scientific principles ­ as it was, he stressed, in America ­ that helped maximise bovine usefulness.

But his standout line on the subject was that “we need cow care, not worship“. He particularly abhorred the then widely prevalent habit of consuming cow urine and, in some cases, even cow dung, and believed the practice may have actually started out in ancient India as a form of punishment so that a person could “expiate his sins“.

And to those orthodox Hindus who thought his views were blasphemous, Savarkar had only one sardonic thing to say: your blasphemy's far, far bigger, just see how you've crammed 33 crore deities into a cow's belly.

Forget India's Left, even its centrists had been loath to touch Savarkar with a barge pole for decades. Some of them have now discovered him all of a sudden and taken to quoting his aforementioned views. Sharad Pawar said at a recent function that Savarkar regarded the cow as a useful animal, nothing more.

That of course is correct, and his views are particularly instructive in the wake of what's happening all around us.But the avowed “secularists“ and self-confirmed “liberals“ among us may perhaps want to read his writings on the subject a little more closely before they throw the book at the Hindutva-wadis, because Savarkar's stand on the cow, however utilitarian his approach may appear to be, cannot be divorced from his theory of Hindutva.

Savarkar did not believe India had been subjugated only during the British Raj. Unlike Nehru who put forward the idea of a `composite culture', he saw the many hundred years of Islamic rule as an era of shackles, submission, suppression and slavery . And one of his major issues with cow worship, apart from its deadening of the mind as he saw it, was that it had “ensured“ many a Hindu defeat in the past. To use a bad pun which he didn't, it had engendered cow-ardice. He alleged that Muslim armies had often used cows as a shield during key battles against the Hindus. When Hindu forces marched on Multan, he said, the Muslims had threatened to destroy the famous Sun temple there as a warning, and when Malharrao Holkar, a Maratha chieftain, had sought to “liberate“ Kashi, the Muslims had again threatened to defile all things holy to the Hindus, Savarkar said and castigated India's majority community for backtracking at such moments for fear of being responsible for the razing of temples, the humiliation of Brahmins and cow slaughter.

He said if the Hindu Rashtra, as he saw it, was ever to be hemmed in by non-Hindu forces and there was no way out of the siege to get food, cow slaughter had to be exercised as an option. The Hindus had done considerable damage to their cause, he said, by saving a few cows used as shields by the rivals, because their survival had ultimately resulted in a far greater destruction of Hindu shrines and the setting up of abattoirs all over the country .

And he had a “final word“ of indictment for those non-Hindus who saw cow slaughter as a religious duty: he said Hindus were naïve in their worship, but they weren't cruel. Those who cut down the animal as part of their dharma were not only naïve but brutal in their religious zealotry , he said, and added that they had no right to ridicule Hindus for their beliefs. In such slaughter Savarkar saw excessive barbarism, ingratitude and an asuric (demonic) instinct. He urged such non-Hindus to give up their “cow hate“ and take up “cow care.“

Even if firmly situated within the Hindutva framework and calling openly for a Hindu Rashtra, this is a surprisingly complex and often apparently contradictory opinion on a subject highly sensitive in today's India.But Savarkar's view is also perhaps unique in that both the gau rakshaks and the Youth Congress's public slaughterers of a calf in Kerala might wonder what exactly to make of him.

Buffalo meat sale, exports

India Today , Bullheaded about beef “India Today” May 1,2017

See graphic

Debates in post-independence India

The Constitution drafting committee

Jaitley: Hurt sentiments no explanation for lynchings| Jul 21 2017 : The Times of India (Delhi)

FM Arun Jaitley told the Rajya Sabha that it was the Constitution drafting committee, chaired by B R Ambedkar, that recommended cow protection. “The Constituent assembly debated the issue in detail...Article 48 (to prevent cow slaughter) was drafted by Ambedkar,“ he said.

Article 48 of the Constitution states that “the state shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for pre serving... the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle“.

“Every state agreed that if Article 48 has be taken to its logical end the states should legislate on the time BJP did not exist and Bharatiya Jan Sangh was not in power in any state. Congress was in power in most states in 1950“, he recalled. The Seventh Schedule put “preservation, protection and improvement of stock and prevention of anima diseases, veterinary training and practice“ as entry no 15 in the State list.

1948- 2005: in the Constituent Assembly  and courts

Dhananjay Mahapatra, Cow slaughter and fundamental rights: Debate on since '48, May 1, 2017: The Times of India   Nearly 70 years ago, the Con stituent Assembly saw a live ly debate on November 24, 1948, on the form in which ban on cow slaughter was to be included in the Constitution. The differing opinions ­ whether it should be part of fundamental rights or be included in Directive Principles of State Policy ­ were settled after much persuasion from elders. The majority agreed to make it a part of Directive Principles.

Pandit Thakurdass Bhargava (East Punjab) had moved an amendment to the draft provision and it determined the shape in which Article 48 stands today, “The State shall endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.“

Aday before the Constitution was adopted, Frank Anthony (Central Provinces & Berar) criticised the in clusion of cow slaughter ban in the Directive Principles chapter. He said, “What I resent... is the insidious way in which this provision with regard to banning of cow slaughter has been brought in. It was not there before. I cannot help saying that those fanatics and extremists who could not bring this provision through the front door have succeeded in bringing it through the back door.“

After the Constitution was adopted, several states ­ Bihar, UP, Assam, Bombay , West Bengal, Central Provinces & Berar and Hyderabad ­ enacted laws in the 1950s to ban cow slaughter and regulate cattle slaughter. No exception was made in these laws to permit slaughter of cattle even for bona fide religious purposes.

It was challenged in the Supreme Court by butchers, tanners, gut merchants, curers and cattle dealers on the ground that it violated their fundamental right to do business (Article 19(1)(g)) and religion (Article 25).Interestingly , Anthony appeared for the butchers and Bhargava as amicus curiae in the SC.

A five-judge bench of the SC in Mohd Hanif Quareshi (1958 AIR 731) partly upheld the validity of the laws, as far as they banned slaughter of cows and calves. However, it said these laws were “void in so far as they totally prohibit the slaughter of breeding bulls and working bullocks without prescribing any test or requirement as to their age or usefulness“. It said a law enacted to honour a Directive Principle provision could not violate fundamental rights.

Nearly half a century later, a seven-judge bench of the SC re-evaluated the 1958 judgment and held that the legislature would be well within its right to impose a complete ban on slaughter of cow and its progeny .

In Mirzapur Moti Kureshi Kassab judgment on October 26, 2005, the seven-judge bench by six to one majority said, “The ban is total with regard to the slaughter of one particular class of cattle. The ban is not on the total activity of butchers (kasais); they are left free to slaughter cattle other than those specified in the (Gujarat) Act.

“They can slaughter animals other than cow progeny and carry on their business activity ... it is not necessary that the animal must be slaughtered to avail these things (hides, skins, etc). The animal, whose slaughter has been prohibited, would die a natural death even otherwise and in that case their hides, skins and other parts of body would be available for trade and industrial activity.“

In the 1958 judgment, the SC, relying on an expert committee's report, had noted the dismal performance of `gosadans', home for retired bovine animals, despite Rs 94 lakh being sanctioned by the Centre in the first five-year plan. The SC had doubted their efficacy in preserving cattle.

In 2005, the SC relied on the National Commission on Cattle, which gave its report in July 2002, to say that `gosadans' and `goshalas' were performing better as people had realised that cows and cattle which did not yield milk or were otherwise retired were still useful for their excreta, which could serve as organic manure and source for biogas fuel.

It said, “Merely because it (ban on slaughter of cow and progeny) may cause inconvenience or some dislocation to the butchers, re striction imposed by the impugned enactment does not cease to be in the interest of the general public. The former must yield to the latter.“

The Centre's adoption of the judiciary's approach, articulated in the 2005 judgment, is evident from its recent affidavit in the SC in Akhil Bharat Goseva Sangh case. The government intends to tag every cow and its progeny with a Unique Identification Number (UIN) to prevent smuggling.It wants to open goshalas to rehabilitate retired bovines with an economic model in mind.It'd have done better to reiterate its commitment to rule of law by mentioning a single line in its affidavit that violence by vigilante groups in the name of cow protection would be dealt with an iron hand.

1966: In the Parliament

The Hindu, November 9, 2016

November 7, 2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the very first assault on Parliament. On this day, in 1966, thousands of sadhus of different varieties and denominations and many others gathered near Parliament demanding an immediate end to cow slaughter all over the country.

Dealing with crisis

The Prime Minister was just less than 10 months in office and she was unsure of her political position both within her own party and in the country. In fact, on that very day, a no-confidence motion against her was being debated and voted upon in the Lok Sabha. It was the fourth crisis to confront Indira Gandhi in her very first year of office after the monsoon failure, the controversial devaluation, and the contentious reorganisation of Punjab. On each of these three occasions, she had shown courage, something her critics are loath to admit. This time also was no different.

Sarkar Committee: 1967

After the February 1967 elections in which the Jan Sangh more than doubled its tally, Indira Gandhi knew that she had to do something on the issue. She confabulated with her colleagues, and on June 29, 1967, the formation of a high-level committee under the chairmanship of A.K. Sarkar, who had just retired as the Chief Justice of India, was announced.

The committee was given a wide-ranging mandate that included examining the feasibility of a national law to ban cow slaughter by amending the Constitution. The composition of this government committee was unusual. Perhaps it has been without parallel in recent Indian political history. It had M.S. Golwalkar, the head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, R.P. Mookerji, a retired judge and elder brother of the founder of the BJS, and the Shankaracharya of Puri as prominent members. Two Chief Ministers — Charan Singh of Uttar Pradesh and D.P. Mishra of Madhya Pradesh — were included as were some other anti-cow slaughter activists. Three non-politicians were also made part of the committee — V. Kurien of the National Dairy Development Board, Ashok Mitra, economist and then chairman of the Agricultural Prices Commission, and H.A.B. Parpia, Director of the Central Food Technological Research Institute.

The committee was given six months to submit its report. It began actively, had numerous meetings and met a large cross-section of society. But it never actually submitted a report. Questions would keep getting asked in Parliament and the answers would be of the usual “the matter is under examination” type. Finally, after 12 years of its existence, Morarji Desai wound up the committee in 1979 when he was Prime Minister.

Both Kurien and Dr. Mitra have left delightful accounts of the committee in their memoirs.

Ecological consequences

The cow protection issue was to galvanise the conservation community as well. People like ornithologist Salim Ali and conservationist Zafar Futehally had been worried about the impact of cattle grazing on sanctuaries like the famous Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary at Bharatpur. Futehally was to write in a leading newspaper in November 1967 that the Sarkar committee should examine the ecological consequences of having a large and uncontrolled cattle population. He persuaded Dillon Ripley of the Smithsonian Institution to support a study to be conducted by the Bombay Natural History Society on this very subject. An overenthusiastic Ripley wrote to Indira Gandhi directly on October 3, 1967 expressing his views on the issue of cattle and conservation. She did not reply, but U.S. Ambassador Chester Bowles reprimanded him on November 7, 1967, saying, “At my request, my deputy Mr. Greene found an opportunity the other day to sound Mrs. Gandhi’s right-hand man, P.N. Haksar about your letter. Haksar readily confirmed that it had been received… and as much said that he thought it better to leave the complexities of the cow problem to the Government of India”.

Fifty years later in 2016, those who launched that attack on Parliament constitute the core of the ruling establishment. Such are the vicissitudes of democracy.

1967: High powered committee to examine national ban

Ss-Guru-Golwalkar-on-16062017020051 `Indira Gandhi put R S S's Guru Golwalkar on cow slaughter committee ... wound up after 12 years without a report' | Jun 16 2017 : The Times of India (Delhi)

By Jairam Ramesh, as told to Nalin Mehta

Jairam Ramesh, former minister of environment and author of `Indira Gandhi: A Life in Nature', spoke about the first political committee to explore a national ban on cow slaughter set up in 1967, the politics of beef and Indira's role in India's ecological history:

On 7 November 1966 thousands of sadhus and others attacked Parliament demanding a national ban on cow slaughter. There was police firing and people died. The home minister resigned. On 29 June 1967 Indira set up a high powered committee to examine the issue of a national ban under AK Sarkar, retired chief justice of the Supreme Court. That committee was given six months to submit its report. It met for 12 years but there was no report. I tried to get the primary papers related to it but did not succeed. The only accounts of that committee are in two memoirs.Ashok Mitra, the economist, and Dr V Kurien, the dairy and Amul man ­ who were both members ­ have written about it, and quite delightfully.

One of the members of that committee was R S S sarsanghchalak guru MS Golwalkar himself. Indira made him a member of that committee.It was wound up in 1979 by PM Morarji Desai. According to Mitra and Kurien, no report was submitted. There may be something in the home ministry's deep archives but I didn't find anything in the National Archives.

Indira’s view on cow slaughter

There is a 1967 letter I quote from then American ambassador Chester Bowles to Dillon Ripley who was then at the Smithsonian Institution which wanted to do a study on the ecological consequences of India's large cattle population. Bowles replied that the PM doesn't like this because this is a sensitive issue and must be dealt with only by Indians.

Eid uz Zuha and Cow sacrifice

Cow sacrifice not integral part of Eid: Calcutta HC

Debashis Konar, Cow sacrifice not integral part of Eid-ul-Adha, says Calcutta HC, August 22, 2018: The Times of India

The Calcutta high court held, a day before Eid-ul-Adha, sacrifice of cows is not an integral part of the festival and thus not a religious requirement under Islam.

The division bench of Chief Justice Jyotirmay Bhattacharya and Justice Arijit Banerjee cited a Supreme Court, directing the state government to incorporate this clause in its notice to be issued regarding the festival on Wednesday. The bench also asked the government to mention the slaughter of animals, including cows and buffaloes, was “strictly prohibited... in open public space”.

The order was passed after state advocate-general Kishore Dutta sought a revision application for an order passed by the same court on August 16. “The necessary infrastructure to strictly adhere to the provisions of the Act is not available with the state,” Dutta said.

Slamming the state government for the lack of infrastructure and machinery to implement the West Bengal Animal Slaughter Control Act, 1950, the bench said, “It is a 68-year-old Act. One could have definitely expected that the state, by this time, would have its machinery in place.” Dutta added the government would take steps to adhere to the provisions of the Act by the next year. HC allowed the time till the next year to implement the provisions, while adding the two important clauses to be included in this year’s notice.

Cow- related crimes/ Cow vigilantism

2014-17: 7% of meat samples tested were cow meat

U Sudhakarreddy, January 3, 2019: The Times of India


A very small percentage of the meat that police and animal husbandry officials caught across the country between 2014 and 2017 was that of the cow. Most of it was found to be bull (male cattle) and buffalo meat.

This has been established after Hyderabad-based National Research Centre on Meat (NRCM) completed DNA analyses of 112 samples it received from across the country. Only eight samples, or 7%, were cow meat. NRCM is a premier meat research institute under the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) umbrella.

The meat species identification laboratory tested samples sent by the state police and animal husbandry departments of UP, Maharashtra, Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala, MP, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana from 2014 to 2017.

The institute had, in fact, received 139 samples, but only 112 were suitable for DNA extraction. The initial suspicion of the state authorities was that 69 samples were cow meat, in 34 samples there was no clarity on whether to categorise them as “other cattle” or “buffalo”, five were buffalo samples, four male cattle and one was suspected to be dog meat.

“Interestingly, three samples suspected to be cow were found to be camel meat and the sample suspected as a dog was found to be sheep,” the researchers said in the paper.

The researchers received another 80 samples in 2018, taking the total number of samples to 206. The analysis is yet to be published but the results have followed a similar trend.

2014-June 2017: Mob Attacks

Subodh Varma, Cow vigilantism has killed 23 since 2014, June 30, 2017: The Times of India

At Least 32 Mob Attacks On Muslims Under NDA

The horrific lynching of a young man, Junaid Khan, in a train near Ballabgarh on the outskirts of Delhi is another instance of a growing trend of mob violence against members of the Muslim community in India.

A review of media reports shows 32 cases of attacks by mobs or vigilante groups on Muslims since May 2014. In these attacks, 23 people were killed, including women and children. This is a conservative estimate because many attacks may not have been covered in national media.

In most cases, the issue of cows has been the proximate cause ­ allegations of cow slaughter, smuggling, eating or even possessing beef. In some cases, rumours and false suspicions of `child lifting' were fueling the mob frenzy , like in Jharkhand and West Bengal. And in some, the pretext of cows was used for committing heinous crimes, as in the gang rape of two young women and murder of their two relatives in Mewat, Haryana.

The spread of these cow terrorism cases ­ 12 states in all ­ is chilling as is the fact that the number is escalating. Between June 2014 and December 2015, 11such attacks took place, but after that, the pace has increased with 2016 recording 12 cases and 2017, 9 cases in six months. Most such attacks have occurred in North India.

Clearly , the spurt has taken place after the NDA government took over. This may be because of the advocacy of cow protection by the BJP and its associated organisations, changes in laws related to cow slaughter in several states ruled by the BJP and a sense of impunity felt by cow vigilantes. In many cases that caused extensive protests, like the lynching of Akhlaq in Dadri in 2015 or the stripping and beating of dalit youths in Una, Gujarat in 2016, the central and state government's response was perceived to be delayed and tepid.

According to home ministry annual reports, there have been 1,454 communal incidents over 2015 and 2016, in which 183 people have been killed and 4,585 injured. This is on the basis of reports by state governments. The precise categorization of a case as `communal' or not is largely up to the local police and often incidents such as lynching or similar attacks motivated by com munal poison may not be recorded as a `communal' incident.

In some cases, the frenzy of the mob was characterized by unprecedented barbarism. In March 2016, a 12-year old boy Inayatullah Khan was hanged along with Mohd. Majloom by a mob of villagers on the mere suspicion of cattle trading. In the Mewat rape case, a 14-year old girl was raped along with her 20-year old cousin by four antisocial elements who barged into their house at night.She told the media later that the rapists told her that they were going to punish her for eating beef. In most cases, the victims pleaded for mercy and denied allegations of cow slaughter or beef eating but in vain.

The state governments in most cases have arrested some of the culprits but usually after an uproar.

In 13 cases, the victims were also charged under some penal provision or other, according to an IndiaSpend review. The target of cow vigilates has extended to Dalits and tribals too, and in some cases to police personnel and government officials. According to a recent IndiaSpend analysis, 26 attacks on non-Muslims too have been carried out mostly by vigilantes and mobs allegedly led by right wing organisations. Several cases have also been reported where Dalits involved in flaying of dead cattle or in transportation were attacked and beaten.

One such incident that shocked the country took place a year ago in Gujarat where four dalit youth were stripped and publicly flogged even as a video was shot of the incident.

2014-17: Increase in number of attacks

India Today 8/1/2018

Statistics show a significant acceleration in the number of such attacks since 2014. In the first six months of the year, there have been 18 reported attacks, 75 per cent of the total number for 2016, the worst year for attacks since 2010. Indeed, of the 60 reported incidents of gau rakshak violence since 2010, almost 97 per cent have occurred after the Modi government took charge. Of the 25 who have died at the hands of gau rakshaks since 2010, 21 have been Muslim.

Haryana, 2015-16

Sukhbir Siwach, 1 in 6 booked for cow crimes is Hindu, Oct 26 2016 : The Times of India

i)The Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act, 2015
ii)Seizure of smuggled cows, 2015

513 Cases Filed In Haryana In Eight Months

After coming to power in 2014, the first ever majority BJP government in Haryana led by Manohar Lal Khattar had kept its word and enacted one of the most stringent laws in the country against cow slaughter. As the government completes two years on Wednesday , details obtained by TOI show that in the past eight months, the state police have booked as many 86 Hindus for cow smuggling and other related offences. The number of Muslims booked for similar offences is much higher at 421. Half-a-dozen Sikhs have been booked too. In all 513 people have been booked. The police have compiled the figures of those booked under the Haryana Gauvansh Sanrakshan and Gausamvardhan Act 2015 between January 1 and August 31, 2016. The maximum cases have been registered in con nection with smuggling cows, though, there are some related to cow slaughter and sale of beef as well. As many as 170 people have been arrested.

“We have found that people from across religions are involved in cow smuggling,“ a senior police officer told TOI requesting anonymity . The maximum smuggling cases are in Mewat, Hisar, Fatehabad, Meham, Bhiwani, Rewari, Bhiwani, Mahendergarh, Yamunanagar and Panipat.

The police have also come to know of cow smuggling to Mewat from a gaushala in Jaipur in Rajasthan.

In the past few months the issue has taken centre stage in Haryana's politics. Today , cow activists allege that Hindus are only used by smugglers to transport the bovines. However, others feel that those involved in the trade should not be identified by their religion.

President of the Haryana Rajya Gaushal Sangh, Shamsher Arya says some Hindus are involved in cow smuggling out of greed and unemployment. “However, they only smuggle and are not involved in slaughter,“ says Arya, who has been associated with a campaign for handing over the grazing grounds to gaushalas from panchayats. According to Arya, smugglers tell the villagers that they need cows for milk and offer around Rs 4,000 per animal, including transportation charges.“The Hindus are used for transport so that the police don't arrest them.“

However, a senior farmer leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni points out that due to cow vigilantes, transportation of the animals has become difficult even for genuine buyers. “We have seen that even farmers have been harassed for transporting cows,“ says Chaduni, who is state president of Bharitiya Kisan Union.

“Some people are trying to polarise Hindus and Muslims in Haryana by using this issue,“ says Harphul Khan Bhatti, state president Muslim Kalyan Committee of Haryana. “This whole issue is not religious but a political one. In fact, Muslims respect cows just as the Hindus do.“

Jharkhand, 2015-16

The Times of India, Jun 21 2016 

Cow smuggling and clashes with cow vigilantes, statewise, Jan-June 2016; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, Jun 21 2016

Cow vigilante groups are now a law unto them selves, assaulting and killing alleged cattle smugglers, gheraoing police stations. Policemen, equally , are at the receiving end of the violence from cattle smugglers.

Since September 2015, when a Muslim was lynched near Dadri on Delhi's outskirts for allegedly possessing cow meat, vigilantism has become rampant, reports from TOI correspondents across states such as Jharkhand, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and UP say .

The shocking incident in Jharkhand's Latehar district, where two alleged cattle traders were thrashed and hanged, made front page news this March. But many cow vigilantism incidents go unnoticed.

Former Jharkhand CM Babulal Marandi sums it up: “In the last six months, harassment of cattle traders has increased manifold. They're beaten up in the name of cow protection. Fear has made many abandon their trade; they're jobless.“

Punjab Dairy Farmers Association president Daljit Singh says vigilantism has affected transportation of cows and adversely impacted diary business. Last April, a video depicting the torture of Punjab cattle smugglers surfaced on social media. Another clip showed Gau Raksha Dal workers flaunting weapons and bulletproof jackets.

Elsewhere, the picture is equally grim. Last month in Rajasthan's Pratapgarh, alleged cattle smugglers were stripped, kicked and tortured in the presence of policemen.Authorities often pamper the cattle protection mobs. On June 6, when over 400 Gau Raksha Dal workers blocked a national highway and gheraoed a police station demanding the release of five vigilantes, senior Pratapgarh police officers transferred SHO Kailash Chand. He'd arrested vigilantes accused of thrashing alleged cow smugglers.

Cow smugglers are no less menacing. On June 3, a chowk idar who tried to rescue cattle was killed allegedly by the smugglers in UP's Azamgarh.Weeks earlier, when police intercepted a truck ferrying cows in Rajasthan's Alwar, the smugglers opened fire.

In this cauldron of violence, rightwing groups are upfront. “If police and administration don't act, others will be forced to. We don't support violence, but cattle smugglers can't have a free run,“ says Sunil Singh, president, Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV), an outfit founded by Gorakhpur MP Adityanath. HYV's members guard the UP-Bihar border, the route smugglers take for the northeast and Bangladesh.

District president Shiv Sena Muzaffarnagar, Yogender Sharma, claims they tackle two or three cattle smuggling incidents monthly while a local officer concedes: “ At times it's difficult to save culprits from the aggressive Hindu groups.

“We want the cow to be declared Rashtra Mata,“ Jharkhand activist Suresh Ram says. In 2012 he was jailed for assaulting a Muslim who, he claimed, was “a cattle smuggler“. Posters distributed in the eastern state often suggest cattle traders should be hanged.

The police have an unenviable task. UP's DIG Meerut range Laxmi Singh says, “We are vigilant. Cow slaughter creates law and order problems. Special teams have been formed to book those slaughtering cows and the protection groups from taking law into their hands.“

On May 9, Justice Fateh Deep Singh of the Punjab and Haryana high court ordered a CBI probe into the role of vigilante groups. The HC observed: “Such groups have no legal backing... the court cannot shut its eyes and allow state police to give fillip... under the garb of protecting animals.“ Inputs: Palak Nandi, Nitesh Kumar Sharma and Ashis Mehta in Jaipur , Shalabh in Lucknow, Faiz Rahman Siddiqui in Kanpur , Arvind Chauhan in Agra, Binay Singh in Varanasi, IP Singh in Jalandhar , Alok Mishra in Ranchi, Suchandana Gupta in Bhopal

Sep 2015- July 2016: Violent attacks by gau rakshaks

The Times of India, 6 Aug, 2016

Some instances of violent attacks perpetrated by gau rakshaks.

1. July 2016 - Mandasur, Madhya Pradesh

In June 2016, two Muslim women from Mandasur in Madhya Pradesh were beaten by gau rakshaks who suspected them of transporting beef for sale. The incident, which took place at a railway station, was filmed.

After the incident, lawyer Prashant Bhushan, once a member of the Team Anna movement, tweeted that the vigilantes' behavior was "goondaism", and that "jungle raj" was "fast spreading in BJP states."

2. July 2016 - Una, Gujarat

On July 11, four Dalit men from a village near Una in Gir province were skinning dead cows. After rumours spread that they were slaughtering them, members of the local Shiv Sena stripped them half-naked, tied them to an SUV, and beat publicly. The incident sparked Dalit protests across the state of Gujarat, and former Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel called for peace. "People with with vested political interests are trying to divide communities and disrupt peace in state," she alleged.

3. June 2016 - NCR

In June 2016, a video surfaced showing two young Muslim men sitting in the middle of the road, trying to ingest a substance in a packet. Shouts of "Gau Mata Ki Jai" and "Jai Shri Ram" could be heard in the background. Reports said the substance was a mixture of cow excrement and dairy products, and that the gau rakshaks who had filmed the video had found beef in the two men's car.

4. May 2016 - Amreli, Gujarat

On May 22, 2016, Seven Dalits were beaten for two and a half hours by more than 30 cow vigilantes in Amreli in Gujarat. The men were reportedly skinning dead cows, but rumours had spread that they were killing them. Their assailants used iron pipes, baseball bats, and swords to hit them. The victims later alleged that the gau rakshaks had planned to burn them alive, and that members of their community had managed to come to their rescue in the nick of time.

Thirteen arrests were made in connection with the incident in July, after the Una attack.

5. September 2015 - Dadri, Uttar Pradesh

On September 28, 2015, Mohammed Akhlaq, a resident of Bisada village in Greater Noida, was beaten to death by a lynch mob. His son was attacked too, and sustained serious injuries. The mob carried out the attack after it was announced at a nearby temple that Akhlaq's family had eaten beef. It was also claimed that there was beef in their house. However, investigations revealed that they had mutton in their fridge, not beef.

Alwar: 2017-18

3 men have been killed in Rajasthan's Alwar district on the suspicion of being cow smugglers, April 2017-July 2018
From: Dishank Purohit, Rajendra Sharma & Chetna Choudhry, Cow vigilantes strike in Alwar again, kill youth, July 22, 2018: The Times of India

See graphic:

3 men have been killed in Rajasthan's Alwar district on the suspicion of being cow smugglers, April 2017-July 2018

Eating of beef

History: Beef eating in ancient India

States with beef eaters India Today

Indpaedia’s view: Hindu scriptures of the Vedic era clearly mention that some deities ate cow or buffalo meat. Even if D. N. Jha, a historian from Delhi University, is silenced through death threats from the Right, these scriptures cannot be changed.

HOWEVER, for the Left to bring up this pre-historic practice is like saying that the Arabs used to worship idols till A.D. 700.

Of course, they did. Most of them did. Islamic sites like Al-Islam always accept that ‘Most of the Arabs were idolaters. They worshipped numerous idols and each tribe had its own idol or idols and fetishes. They had turned the Kaaba in Makkah, which according to tradition, had been built by the Prophet Abraham and his son, Ismael, and was dedicated by them to the service of One God, into a heathen pantheon housing 360 idols of stone and wood.’

The coming of Islam changed that, and that is how things have been to this day and that is what is relevant. Present day Arabs are not idolaters. The Kaaba has not been a shrine with idols since the coming of Islam. In both cases, the present is what matters. What happened before Islam is only a matter of historical interest.

Did ancient Arabs eat pork? Unlikely, because not only Judaism but even ancient Egyptians considered pork unclean. HOWEVER, the oldest confirmed evidence of pigs domesticated and kept for pork meat come[s from Hallan Cemi in Southeastern Turkey from about 8000 BC].

But today Turkey is Muslim and pork is not eaten. Bashkir Turks used to worship [phallus idols.] The established presence of Islam in the region that now constitutes modern Turkey dates back to around A.D. 1060. Since then they gradually stopped eating pork and worshipping idols. In these two cases, too, the present is what matters. What happened before Islam is only a matter of historical interest.

Similarly, India has gone through many transformations.

By Sri Ram’s time beef was no longer being eaten by the majority.

Sri Krishn went much further. He was a Kshatriya and was thus permitted to eat meat. But in Srimad Bhagwat Gita [9:26] he clearly specified the kind of food he would eat:

पत्रम पुष्पम फलम तोयम यो मे भक्त्या प्रच्छति।

तदहम भक्तत्युपहृतमश्नामि प्रयतात्मन:।।26।।

"If one offers Me with love and devotion

a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it."

(From Ramesh Sharma)

By Sri Krishn’s time vegetarianism had gained enormous ground. Many scholars feel that it was Sri Krishn who promoted the vegetarian ideal in India.

Therefore, what pastoral Aryans or ancient Arabs or mediæval Turks did is a matter of academic interest and should never be denied by the Right. However, the Left should also accept that nations and peoples change over the centuries and what is relevant to present day India is not what some pastoral Indians did before the evolution of Hinduism to its present (post- Bhagwat Gita) form but what the majority of Hindus have been doing in the last several thousand years, since the Bhagwat Gita. Many have been eating meat, but barring the few Kerala communities and the few historical figures mentioned below, for the overwhelming majority of Hindus beef is taboo and cow slaughter hurts them deeply.

The Left should respect that, and the Right should not deny history.

Prof. Ram Puniyani’s article:

Prof. RAM PUNIYANI | Beef eating: strangulating history | Aug 14, 2001 | The Hindu:

While one must respect the sentiments of those who worship cow and regard her as their mother, PROF. D. N. JHA, a historian from Delhi University, had been experiencing the nightmares of `threats to life' from anonymous callers who were trying to prevail upon him not to go ahead with the publication of his well-researched work, Holy Cow: Beef in Indian Dietary Traditions

As per the reports it is a work of serious scholarship based on authentic sources in tune with methods of scientific research in history. The book demonstrates that contrary to the popular belief even today a large number of Indians, the indigenous people in particular and many other communities in general, consume beef unmindful.

Currently 72 communities in Kerala - not all of them untouchables - prefer beef to the expensive mutton.

Not tenable

To begin with the historian breaks the myth that Muslim rulers introduced beef eating in India. Much before the advent of Islam in India beef had been associated with Indian dietary practices.

A survey of ancient Indian scriptures, especially the Vedas, shows that amongst the nomadic, pastoral Aryans who settled here, animal sacrifice was a dominant feature till the emergence of settled agriculture. Cattle were the major property during this phase and they offered the same to propitiate the gods. Wealth was equated with the ownership of the cattle.

Many gods such as Indra and Agni are described as having special preferences for different types of flesh - Indra had weakness for bull's meat and Agni for bull's and cow's. It is recorded that the Maruts and the Asvins were also offered cows. In the Vedas there is a mention of around 250 animals out of which at least 50 were supposed to be fit for sacrifice and consumption. In the Mahabharata there is a mention of a king named Rantideva who achieved great fame by distributing foodgrains and beef to Brahmins. [Citation and the actual verse is needed: Did he give beef or cows.] Taittiriya Brahman categorically tells us: `Verily the cow is food' (atho annam via gauh) [Indpaedia: Yes, cow milk is food] and Yajnavalkya's insistence on eating the tender (amsala) flesh of the cow is well known. Even later Brahminical texts provide the evidence for eating beef. Even Manusmriti did not prohibit the consumption of beef.

As a medicine

In therapeutic section of Charak Samhita (pages 86-87) the flesh of cow is prescribed as a medicine for various diseases. It is also prescribed for making soup. It is emphatically advised as a cure for irregular fever, consumption, and emaciation. The fat of the cow is recommended for debility and rheumatism.

With the rise of agricultural economy and the massive transformation occurring in society, changes were to be brought in in the practice of animal sacrifice also. At that time there were ritualistic practices like animal sacrifices, with which Brahmins were identified. Buddha attacked these practices. There were sacrifices, which involved 500 oxen, 500 male calves, 500 female calves and 500 sheep to be tied to the sacrificial pole for slaughter. Buddha pointed out that aswamedha, purusmedha, vajapeya sacrifices did not produce good results. According to a story in Digha Nikaya, when Buddha was touring Magadha, a Brahmin called Kutadanta was preparing for a sacrifice with 700 bulls, 700 goats and 700 rams. Buddha intervened and stopped him. His rejection of animal sacrifice and emphasis on non-injury to animals assumed a new significance in the context of new agriculture.

The threat from Buddhism

The emphasis on non-violence by Buddha was not blind or rigid. He did taste beef and it is well known that he died due to eating pork. [Indpaedia: That is one of the theories of Lord Buddha’s death. There is no proof.] Emperor Ashok after converting to Buddhism did not turn to vegetarianism. He only restricted the number of animals to be killed for the royal kitchen.

So where do matters change and how did the cow become a symbol of faith and reverence to the extent of assuming the status of `motherhood'? Over a period of time mainly after the emergence of Buddhism or rather as an accompaniment of the Brahminical attack on Buddhism, the practices started being looked on with different emphasis. The threat posed by Buddhism to the Brahminical value system was too severe. In response to low castes slipping away from the grip of Brahminism, the battle was taken up at all the levels. At philosophical level Sankara reasserted the supremacy of Brahminical values, at political level King Pushyamitra Shung ensured the physical attack on Buddhist monks, at the level of symbols King Shashank got the Bodhi tree (where Gautama the Buddha got Enlightenment) destroyed.

One of the appeals to the spread of Buddhism was the protection of cattle wealth, which was needed for the agricultural economy. In a way while Brahminism `succeeded' in banishing Buddhism from India, it had also to transform itself from the `animal sacrifice' state to the one which could be in tune with the times. It is here that this ideology took up the cow as a symbol of their ideological march. But unlike Buddha whose pronouncements were based on reason, the counteraction of Brahminical ideology took the form of a blind faith based on assertion. So while Buddha's non-violence was for the preservation of animal wealth for the social and compassionate reasons the counter was based purely on symbolism. So while the followers of Brahminical ideology accuse Buddha of `weakening' India due to his doctrine of non-violence, he was not a cow worshipper or vegetarian in the current Brahminical sense.

Large sections of low castes continued the practice of beef eating. The followers of Buddhism continued to eat flesh including beef. [Indpaedia: Ladakhi and Tibetan eat the yak to this day.] Since Brahminism is the dominant religious tradition, Babur, the first Mughal emperor, in his will to his son Humayun, in deference to these notions, advised him to respect the cow and avoid cow slaughter.

The author is a member of EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity), Mumbai carries a verse by verse rebuttal of the above, which is how a civilised debate should be.

Cow meat produced in India

Kaushik Deka , Kerala’s beef ban “India Today” 12/6/2017

Cow meat produced , India Today , June 12,2017

Cows and Bulls slaughtered : 2015-2016

Kaushik Deka , Cows fear “India Today” 12/6/2017

Where cows fear knife , India Today , June12,2017

10 facts about beef in India

The Times of India, May 29 2015

Beef exports from India, 2011-15; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, November 17, 2015

1 States where cow slaughter is banned: Maharashtra, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Punjab, Odisha, Puducherry, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Delhi, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh

2 Bulls and buffaloes are sold and eaten in most states even where cow slaughter is banned.Karnataka, for example, allows slaughter of bulls and buffaloes above 12 years

3 But some states like Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, J&K and Himachal Pradesh have more stringent laws that ban the slaughter of all

4 West Bengal permits slaughter of cows, bulls and buffaloes over the age of 14 but requires a `fit for slaughter' certificate

5 Daman & Diu and Goa permit slaughter of those cows which are old or sick, or for medical purposes

6 Kerala is believed to be India's most beef-friendly state.There is no state legislation banning cow slaughter & dishes like `beef fry' and `beef chilli' are available at roadside stalls too

7 States like Kerala, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Arunachal & Nagaland allow slaughter of cattle with no certificate required

8 Despite the bans, India is only second to Brazil when it comes to exporting beef, but most of it is buffalo meat. It is also the fifth-largest producer

9 India's beef ship ments till Oct last year rose to 1.95 million tonnes, 5% more than for the whole of 2013, according to the US department of agriculture

10 It is said that over a quarter of India's population of Scheduled Tribes & Scheduled Castes eat beef. Consumption is also prevalent across all sections of society in states where cow slaughter is legal


Kaushik Deka , Meaty business “India Today” 12/6/2017

Slaughterhouses , India Today , June 12,2017

Judicial judgements

Mere possession of meat not an offence: HC

June 3, 2023: The Times of India

PRAYAGRAJ: The Allahabad high court has held that mere possession of meat is not an offence under the UP Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act unless it is shown with cogent and sufficient evidence that the substance recovered is beef.

Making these observations, Justice Vikram D Chauhan granted bail to one Ibran, alias Sheru, of Pilibhit district, saying that “in the present case the prosecution has not demonstrated with cogent evidence that the substance recovered is beef or a beef product”. Elaborating, the court said in its May 25 order: “Mere carrying of meat by any person by itself cannot amount to sale or transport of beef or beef products.”

“No material has been shown by the state counsel to demonstrate that the applicant had slaughtered or caused to be slaughtered or offered and caused to be offered for slaughter a cow, bull or bullock in any place in UP. The alleged act cannot be stated to come within the ambit of the UP Cow Slaughter Act. No report from a competent authority or authorised laboratory has been shown to demonstrate that the meat recovered is beef,” the court said while granting bail.

Sale of cattle

See Cattle: India

State-wise, the legal position


2023, May

June 4, 2023: The Times of India

Theerstwhile BJP government of BS Yediyurappa had introduced two bills in 2010 and 2012, amending a 1964 Act. The bills were withdrawn in 2014 by the then Congress government led by Siddaramaiah.

Unlike the 1964 Act, which allowed slaughter of bulls, bullocks and buffaloes, the new law bans the slaughter of “cow, calf of a cow and bull and bullocks of all ages and a buffalo below the age of 13 years”. The 1964 law allowed the slaughter of bullocks, buffaloes, male or female, if they were certified by a competent authority to be above the age of 12 years, incapacitated for breeding or deemed sick. That law had banned the killing of any cow or calf of a she-buffalo.

In February 2021, amid up- roarious scenes with opposition members tearing up copies of the bill, the Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was passed by voice vote in the legislative council.

In the amended bill, BJP had enlarged the definition of cattle, made punishment harsher and raised the age limit of cattle for slaughter. The 2020 bill also gave powers to police officers to search premises and seize cattle and materials used or intended to be used to commit illegal cattle slaughter, with imprisonment from three to seven years and a penalty between Rs 50,000 and Rs 5 lakh for the first offence.

Uttar Pradesh


Rajesh Kumar Pandey, TNN, Nov 25, 2023: The Times of India

HC: UP curbs only on transporting cattle, not on carrying beef

Prayagraj : Allahabad HC has said that there is no restriction on transportation of beef from any place outside Uttar Pradesh to any location within the state as per the UP Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1955. The court said in a judgment earlier this week that the restriction under the Act is only in respect of transportation of cows, bulls and bullocks.

Allowing a criminal revision petition filed by one Vaseem Ahmad who had challenged Fatehpur district magistrate’s order confiscating his motorcycle following allegation that it was used for transportation of beef, Justice Pankaj Bhatia observed on Monday, “The restriction on transportation in terms of the Act and rules framed under it are applicable in respect of transportation of cow, bull or bullock, that too in any place in Uttar Pradesh from any place outside the state. In the entire Act or rules, there exists no provision barring transportation of beef.”

Ahmad was booked in the case in 2021 under section 8/5/3 of the Act. Hearing the petition, the court observed that transportation of beef in the state is neither prohibited nor regulated. “Thus, the foundation for confiscation on charge of transportation in violation of the provision of this Act is prima facie not established,” Justice Bhatia said.
Ordering the DM to release the seized mobike, the HC said that the confiscation was made “on a misreading of section 5A(7) of the Cow Slaughter Act”.

Smuggling of cattle

Bengal, India-Bangladesh border: 2014-17

Cattle smuggling goes on along Indo-Bangla border, Shiv Sahay Singh, October 22, 2017: The Hindu

5.32 lakh heads of cattle valued at about ₹350 crore have been seized since 2014

Two Border Security Force (BSF) personnel have been killed, allegedly by cattle smugglers along the India-Bangladesh border, over the past two months. Tushar Kanti Das died on September 14 at an outpost near Angrail in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district, while Dipak Modal from the Tripura Frontier BSF succumbed to injuries he sustained in an attack on October 16.

The two deaths are an indication that cattle smuggling along the international border is a major challenge for security personnel guarding the border. An analysis of cattle seized along the India Bangladesh border reveals that there has been no significant drop in cattle smuggling since 2014.

Answers tabled by the Home Ministry on March 28, 2017, in response to questions raised by Members of Parliament in the Lok Sabha, revealed that 1,09,999 heads of cattle were seized in 2014, 1,53,602in 2015 and 1,68,801 in 2016.

For the first nine months of 2017, till September 30, 99,744 heads of cattle were seized along this border. Senior officials of the BSF said that the numbers for all of 2017 may be somewhere between 1.3 lakh to 1.4 lakh heads of cattle seized.

Bucking the trend

There is one stretch of border that bucks this trend. Of the 1,09,999 heads of cattle seized in 2014, 1,01,751 (about 92%) were from the BSF’s South Bengal Frontier (SBF). But by 2017, cattle seized along the SBF had dropped to 43% of the total number of cattle heads seized — 43,597 of the 99,774 cattle heads seized in the entire eastern theatre.

BSF’s SBF, which extends from West Bengal’s Sunderbans to Malda is considered most porous and vulnerable to cross border smuggling. Of the 918-km border, only a third is fenced and large parts of about 360 km is riverine, where rivers flowing between the two countries serve as the international border.

Could the fall in numbers of cattle smuggled along this stretch indicate a change in smuggling routes, with smuggling activities shifting the north and northeast? Some numbers appear to indicate this.

In 2014, 6,651 heads of cattle were seized along the BSF’s North Bengal Frontier (NBF), which rose to 16,020 heads of cattle in 2016, and 11,542 heads of cattle till September 2017.

Officials of BSF’s NBF said many seizures were made along the national highway leading to Assam, a few kilometres off the border.

Till 2014, hardly any cattle heads were seized from the northeast, but the figures now indicate that almost 40% of cattle heads were seized from the northeast.

India shares a 4,096-km border with Bangladesh along the States of West Bengal (the longest at 2,216 km), followed by Tripura (856 km). The other States sharing borders with Bangladesh are Meghalaya (443 km), Mizoram (318 km) and Assam (263 km). Each State in the northeast has a dedicated BSF Frontier for managing security along the border. Illegal trade of cattle remains huge in terms of the numbers of cattle heads seized. “It is impossible to stop cattle smuggling as the margin of profit is very high and locals on both sides of the border benefit economically from it. It is like a cat and mouse game — you have increased surveillance at some spot and the smugglers try other places,” a senior BSF officer said.

High margins

The margin for one smuggled cattle head may be as high as ₹10,000-₹15,000, depending on the size of cattle. Figures indicate that over 5.32 lakh heads of cattle valued at valuing about ₹350 crore have been seized along the eastern theater since 2014. Along the SBF alone, over 3.25 lakh units of cattle valued at ₹200 crore have been seized since 2014.

See also

Cattle: India

Cows: India

Cow slaughter: India

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