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Cow slaughter ban: Bengal opposes Centre's move, leather industry to be hit

Sulagna Sengupta | Updated on: 27 May 2017, 20:31 IST
(Sanjit Das/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

The Narendra Modi government has banned the sale of all kinds of cattle for slaughter at animal markets across the country.

If the terror of cow vigilantes was not enough to discourage farmers from having cattle stocks as a means of additional income, the new rules require the purchaser to provide an undertaking that animals are being bought for agricultural purposes, not slaughter.

A day after the Environment Ministry issued a notification in this regard, the West Bengal government has said that the move will cripple the state's thriving leather industry.

At present, 6.5 million people are engaged in the leather industry, which gets its raw material from the hides of bovine animals. Bengal is one of the largest exporters of leather in India, and senior government officials say this move will directly affect most of these people.

Kerala has already raised alarm on this matter; its Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has written a letter to Prime Minister Modi, claiming the new rule is “against the principles of secularism and federalism of the country”.

Many appeals

Senior officials of the state government say they have not yet received any official notification from the Union Environment Ministry regarding the ban, but if and when they do, they are planning to appeal to the Centre not to implement such a policy in the state, as it will affect the livelihood of those associated with leather industry, as well as the cattle farmers who often sell injured cows.

Partha Chatterjee, state parliamentary affairs minister, says: “Once we receive notification from the Centre, we will request it not to implement cow slaughter in Bengal, as it will affect the livelihoods of many labourers associated with the leather industry, as well as cattle farmers. The Centre cannot impose any decision on the state. States too have a right to take their own decisions.”

Javed Ahmed Khan, minister in charge of disaster management in the West Bengal government, says: “We feel that the Centre should consult all states before implementing this policy. Around 50,000-60,000 tonnes of leather are exported every month from Bengal, and if cow slaughter is banned, then it will affect the leather industry. Although we support the ban on cow slaughter, but they should also look at the livelihoods of the labourers associated with this industry before banning it.”

Imran Ahmed Khan, secretary of the Kolkata Leather Complex, says: “We have decided to write a letter to the Centre, urging it not to implement such a policy and to withdraw it, as it will affect the leather industry badly.”

About US$ 6.3 billion worth of raw material comes from slaughtering cattle, and Khan says: “If the policy is implemented, leather goods manufacturers will need to import costly raw materials, which will increase the prices of leather goods and reduce the profits.”

A communal move?

According to Khan, if cow slaughter is banned under the new Regulation of Livestock Market Rules, framed under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, then it shouldn't be just cows that are banned from slaughter – even animals like goats, pigs and sheep should also be brought under its ambit.

A section of All India Trinamool Congress leaders feels this is an attempt by the Centre to stop beef eating, and to create a communal divide.

A senior Trinamool leader says: “We feel that this is an attempt by the BJP government to create a communal divide. By banning the sale of cows and buffaloes for slaughter through animal markets, it is ultimately trying to stop people from eating beef.”

Dilip Ghosh, state BJP president, on the other hand, says: “We welcome such a decision of the Centre, as we feel that the inhuman practice of slaughtering cows and buffaloes should be stopped.”

First published: 27 May 2017, 20:31 IST
 
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