From arresting those who post about beef to beating up others for savouring the red meat or even transporting cattle on the suspicion of beef smuggling, cow vigilantism in India has been a serious issue for a few years. Now, Madhya Pradesh is the first Indian state taking active measures to change that.
In a crackdown against cow vigilantes, the ruling Congress party in Madhya Pradesh just approved an amendment to the anti-cow slaughter law to make attacks against those who eat or trade cows a punishable offence. Those found guilty of violence under the guise of cow vigilantism will now face a jail term of six months to three years, along with a fine of Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000. Additional Chief Secretary of the Animal Husbandry department, Manoj Shrivastava, told The Indian Express that punishment under this law can be raised to a minimum of one year and a maximum of five years if it’s a case of mob violence in the name of cow vigilantism, while for repeat offenders, the jail term can be doubled.
“The amendment has been made keeping in mind the Supreme Court order...telling states to act tough on cow vigilantism,” Shrivastava told Hindustan Times, referring to the statement made by former Chief Justice Dipak Mishra in July 2018 on how the Parliament should consider punishing “horrendous acts of mobocracy”.
The sub-divisional magistrate will now also issue official permission documents for cattle transporters to avoid any confusion, since according to the State Animal Husbandry Minister Lakhan Singh Yadav, most of these transporters do not have specific documents to show “whether the cow being transported is going for slaughter or for sale, and often end up being harassed or bashed up by gau rakshaks (cow protectors)”.
This move comes after an incident in the Seoni district where three people were attacked on suspicion of carrying beef and a US State Department report that said Muslims in India often get attacked based on rumours that they have killed or traded a cow.
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