Modi govt’s new restrictions on cattle slaughter will hurt farmers the most

The government’s move will lead to an explosion in the number of ‘stray’ cattle


Gazette No. 396, issued by the Government of India on May 23 and titled the ‘Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017’, promises to be the final death knell of cattle and buffaloes in India, and along with them, the destruction of what little remains of a dignified life and livelihood for farmers.

This completely innocuous sounding amendment, issued under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act – a Central law – imposes in section 22 a set of ‘Restrictions on sale of cattle’. These require the owner of cattle being brought to the market for sale, in other words the farmer, to produce and submit to the Animal Market Committee a written declaration stating that “the cattle has not been brought to the market for sale for slaughter”. In turn, the buyer of the animal has to undertake “that the animal is being bought for agriculture purposes and not slaughter”

The committee will further keep records of the sale of animals to ensure they are not resold within six months of purchase. They will also keep ID records of the buyer, seller and animal.

The rules defines ‘cattle’ to mean “cow, calf, bull, bullock, buffalo, heifer, steer and camel”.

By equating ‘slaughter’ with cruelty and criminalising the trade and transportation of animals for slaughter at animal markets as an act of cruelty, the Central government has effectively enforced a country-wide ban on the slaughter of buffaloes and cattle, and the consumption of beef, despite statements of denial from the environment minister.

Animal markets are crucial nuclei of the production cycle of animals, through which animals pass from farmers to others and vice-versa. These new rules effectively choke the free movement of animals via the market space and, more critically, completely undermine the freedom and rights of farmers, traders and all others whose livelihoods are linked to this production cycle, which ultimately is what sustains cattle and buffaloes of this country.

The right of farmers to life and livelihood is at stake: their dairy livelihoods and bullock-based agricultural livelihoods stand to be completely destroyed with this cruel law – cruel for farmers and cruel for animals.| READ MORE….