New Delhi: The Assam Assembly on Friday (August 13, 2021) passed a bill that prohibits the slaughter or sale of beef within a 5 km radius of any temple. The Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021 was passed amid a walkout by the opposition parties in protest against the government’s refusal to forward the legislation to a select committee.
The legislation seeks to ensure that permission for slaughter is not granted to areas that are predominantly inhabited by Hindu, Jain, Sikh and other non-beef eating communities or places that fall within a 5 km radius of a temple, satra and any other institution as may be prescribed by the authorities. Exemptions, however, might be granted for certain religious occasions.
Transportation of bovines through the state without valid documents has also been sought to be checked by the Bill and all offences under this new legislation shall be cognizable and non-bailable.
The ruling BJP members shouted ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and ‘Jai Shree Ram’ slogans and thumped desks as soon as Speaker Biswajit Daimary announced the was passed.
“I’m sure this will deal a heavy blow to the illegal cattle trade & transit through Assam, ensuring due care of cattle as practised in our tradition for ages,” Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.
Extremely happy and proud to fulfill our poll promise with the passing of historic Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 2021.
I’m sure this will deal a heavy blow to the illegal cattle trade & transit through Assam, ensuring due care of cattle as practised in our tradition for ages. pic.twitter.com/9RZ4z4iCYd
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) August 13, 2021
“There was an intervening period of 30 days, we were ready to consider amendments but the Opposition could not come up with proper facts. Cattle Slaughter Prevention bill is nothing but an improvement of what was done by Congress in the late 1950s,” Sarma added.
He also said, “We have completely banned transportation of cattle beyond a district. It cannot go from one district to another district for slaughter. Permission is required for farming activities.”
Sarma said that the bill had no bad intention and claimed it will strengthen communal harmony.
“The legislation doesn’t intend to stop anyone from consuming beef, but the person who eats so must also respect the religious sentiments of others,” the Assam CM said.
“I would like it more if you (referring to Muslim MLAs in the House) do not eat beef at all, though I can’t stop you from it. I respect your right. Conflict starts when we stop respecting other’s religions,” Sarma said.
The BJP leader added that it can’t be that only Hindus are responsible for maintaining communal harmony, Muslims must also reciprocate.
The Bill was introduced by Sarma in the House on July 12 and states that slaughter of cattle will be prohibited unless a necessary certificate issued by the registered veterinary officer of a particular area has been obtained. It further says that the veterinary officer will issue a certificate only if he is of the opinion that the bovine, not being a cow, is over 14 years of age. Also, a cow, heifer or calf may be slaughtered only if it is permanently incapacitated.
(With agency inputs)