A day after President Pranab Mukherjee gave his assent to the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 1995, banning the slaughter of bulls and bullocks in the state, beef dealers are gearing up to protest the ban, which they say will render them jobless.
The Mumbai Suburban Beef Dealer Association took up the issue with the state minority commission on Tuesday and will soon meet lawyers to find ways to legally challenge the ban.
“With this ban, the Bharatiya Janata Party government, prodded by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, has deprived farmers and mainly Muslims involved in the business a good source of income. This is clear injustice from a government that says they work for the farmers and welfare of all minorities,” said Ansar Ahmed Qureshi, a member of the association that works out of the municipal abattoir at Deonar.
Now, anyone found to be selling beef or in possession of it can be jailed for five years and fined Rs 10,000.
“This is our main source of income and the source of cheap protein for the poor, especially the scheduled castes who mainly buy meat. Moreover, this ban will hike the prices of other meat and even vegetables, affecting everyone, not just meat-eaters,” said Mohammed Qureshi, president of the Mumbai Suburban Beef Dealer Association.
Approximately 400 bullocks and buffaloes are slaughtered at Deonar each day, according to Appasing Pawara, general manager, Deonar abattoir. “We have not received any notification as yet and as of today, bulls and bullocks are allowed to be slaughtered here,” he said.
Once the ban is effective, beef dealers at Deonar peg their daily collective losses at Rs 1.2 crore and the municipal corporation is set to lose around Rs 80,000 per day because of the ban. The BMC charges dealers a slaughtering fee and an entry fee.
The dealers, mainly Muslims of the Qureshi caste, purchase the old and infirmed cattle from farmers at Rs 25,000 per bullock.
“Now, a farmer in Maharashtra, already reeling under drought and currently hit by unseasonal rain, will have to spend more on 80 litres of water a day and fodder for bullocks that won’t even help with farm work,” explained Ansar Ahmed Qureshi.
Mohammed Hussein Khan, chairperson of Maharashtra’s Minority Commission, assured the association that he would recommend the chief minister to reconsider the ban.
“This Bill was passed in 1995 and now, the CM sent the Bill to Centre and got it passed. As the President has already signed the bill, there is little that can be done. So I suggested that the association, along with other affected Christians and other castes, make a representation before the CM and the PM to reconsider the bill. Once the association gives a formal request, I will recommend the issue to the CM,” said Khan.
Ancient India – no beef with beef
The Hindus-hate-beef concept is actually not historically accurate. According to an article in The Hindu, a study of ancient Indian scriptures shows that beef has for long been associated with Indian dietary practises and wasn’t introduced in India by Muslim rulers (that’s the common perception). In fact, the ancient scriptures suggest that gods actually liked their meat. Indra liked bull’s meat while Agni preferred bull’s and cow’s meat and that’s why these animals were routinely used in animal sacrifice. Cow’s flesh was actually prescribed as medicine. The article states: ‘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.’
The cow-is-our-mother phenomenon actually came along later and that was due to the Brahmins. To banish Buddhishm (which wanted the protection of cattle), Brahminism ended up ‘transforming itself from an ‘animal sacrifice’ state to one which took the cow as the symbol of their ideological march’.