Published: 13th July 2021
What The FAQ: Is the Assam Cattle Preservation Bill actually the Cow preservation Bill?
While the 1950 act allowed the slaughter of cows that were older than 14 years, the new bill prohibits slaughter of cows, period
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on July 12 tabled the Assam Cattle Preservation Bill 2021 in the state assembly to regulate the slaughter, consumption and transportation of cattle. Here's all you need to know about the new bill which might soon become a law in the northeastern state.
What does the bill really say?
While it is called the cattle preservation bill, it categorically saves only one of them — cows. The proposed act is applicable on cows, bulls, bullocks, heifers, calves, male and female buffalo and their calves. If you are slaughtering cattle, you must have a fit-for-slaughter certificate from a vet. But the 1950 act allowed the slaughter of cows that were older than 14 years, while the new bill prohibits slaughter of cows, period. “No certificate shall be issued unless the Veterinary Officer is of the opinion that the cattle, not being a cow, is over fourteen years of age; or the cattle, not being a cow, heifer or calf, has become permanently incapacitated from work or breeding due to accidental injury or deformity,” it read.
One would need a permit to transport cattle for slaughter even if they are passing through the state. Beef will only be available in specified government shops and cannot be sold in 'Hindu and Jain areas' or within 5km of a temple.
How is the bill expected to help?
Sarma, who also holds the Home and Political Affairs Departments, while introducing the bill on the opening day of the budget session of the Assam assembly, said that the proposed legislation would also prevent smuggling and illegal trade of cattle.
The much expected bill said that in the light of the experience over the years and in view of the shortcomings which have been observed, it is considered that there is an imperative need to enact a legislation to include sufficient legal provisions to regulate the slaughter, consumption and transportation of cattle by repealing "The Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950".
Smuggling of cows and other cattle to Bangladesh is rampant along five Indian states of West Bengal (2,216 kms), Tripura (856 kms), Meghalaya (443 kms), Mizoram (318 kms) and Assam (263 km) -- that share a 4,096-km border with the neighbouring country. Of the 4,096-km border, 1,116 kms are of riverine frontiers and a large portion is unfenced and tough terrain making it advantageous for smugglers and illegal traders to continue unlawful trades and smuggling of various goods and animals. One of the reasons to introduce the bill is to curb smuggling.
But there is another argument too —cows nurture us so we should protect them. Governor Jagdish Mukhi in his speech during the first session of the new Assembly on May 22 had said that the state government would adopt a zero-tolerance policy and enforce stringent punishment for offenders. "Once the cow protection Bill is passed in the Assembly, Assam would join few other states in the country which have passed similar legislations. Cows nurture people as the animal gives them life-sustaining and nutritious milk," Mukhi had said.
What is the punishment?
Violation of provisions of the new law entails imprisonment of up to eight years and a fine up to Rs 5 lakh.
How have Assam's neighbours reacted?
While most of the northeastern states have not reacted yet to Assam's cow protection law, Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K. Sangma last week had said that the state government would take up the matter with the Centre if Assam's new law affects the supply of beef to the state.