The state of Gujarat has tightened the law on cow slaughter and possession of beef and the perpetrator can be sentenced to life imprisonment.
The majority Hindu population in India considers the cow sacred and worships it with the status of ‘mother’.
Many other communities, including Muslims, have a long tradition of eating beef, oxen and buffalo meat.
But now, in view of the ‘tense’ atmosphere created in India, some progressive Muslim intellectuals say that there is nothing wrong with avoiding anything that hurts the religious sentiments of a particular community.
However, the southern Indian state of Kerala and many northeastern states have a long tradition of eating beef. It is also a fact that a large segment of India’s poor population has been eating beef (beef and buffalo meat) for nutrition as it is available at cheaper prices than chicken and mutton.
The Allahabad High Court in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has heard a case this week questioning the use of law in Uttar Pradesh to curb cow slaughter.
The court said that this law is being used against the innocent while the use of this law should be in its spirit.
During the hearing on the bail application of one of the accused arrested under the Gaukshi Act, High Court Judge Justice Siddharth said: “This law is being used against innocent people. Wherever meat is found, it is reported to be beef without being tested in a forensic lab. In most cases, the meat is not even sent for testing. The accused are in jail for a crime that may not have happened.
The bail order states that no recovery memo is prepared when the cows are shown in possession and no one knows where the cows go after recovery.
The High Court also expressed concern over the poor condition of cows and their offspring i.e. oxen, bulls and calvesc, saying that cowsheds (where cows are kept and reared) do not accept non-lactating and old cows. ۔ They are left to wander on the streets and passers-by are also at risk because of these animals.
The court said: ‘These cows cannot be taken out of the state for fear of the locals and the police. The pastures are gone. In such a situation, these animals get lost here and there and destroy the crops.
Petitioner Rahimuddin had filed a petition in the court in this case that he has been arrested without any special charge. According to the petitioner, he was not arrested from the spot and after the arrest, the police did not even try to find out whether the reason for his arrest was beef or not.