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Kerala CM Vijayan Calls All-CM Meeting to Oppose Centre's Cattle Notification

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday decided to call a meeting of all chief ministers to fight the central government's gazette notification banning the sale and purchase of cattle for slaughter.

Neethu Reghukumar | CNN-News18

Updated:May 31, 2017, 11:11 PM IST
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Kerala CM Vijayan Calls All-CM Meeting to Oppose Centre's Cattle Notification
File photo of Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan (PTI Photo)

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday decided to call a meeting of all chief ministers to fight the central government's gazette notification banning the sale and purchase of cattle for slaughter. Kerala has witnessed several protests, beef festivals, opposing what many call a "blanket ban" on cattle sale.

The chief minister dubbed the notification as an encroachment on the rights of the state, democracy and federalism.

Vijayan said it was an overreach by the centre and the state will challenge it legally without allowing a ban on beef through such backdoor policies.

J Prabhat, a political scientist, told news18, "Pinarayi Vijayan is known as a strong leader and in this issue, he has taken a strong stand. It has helped his image politically. He is trying to emerge as a stronger leader outside the state and his stand on the issue was widely appreciated.”

On the first day of the notification, Kerala chief minister had said that the ban was surprising.

"LDF has an uncompromising stand on this issue. We will not compromise on this matter at any stage.The livelihood of thousands of people will be lost. What right does a government have to say that you cannot have a particular food? They are trying to impose their idea which is not good in a democratic country. RSS is taking the country in a dangerous direction,” Pinarayi Vijayan said.

Vijayan, in a letter to the Prime Minister, urged him to repeal the newly imposed restrictions, so that the lives and livelihoods of millions of our fellow countrymen were protected, thereby also guarding the Fundamental principles of our constitution.

His letter stated, “Meat is the primary source of protein for millions of poor and ordinary people in this country, particularly the Dalits. Such restrictions being imposed on the eve of Ramzan would certainly appear to certain communities of our country as a direct attack on them. People of all faiths consume meat in our country, not just the minorities. Once the prohibition comes into effect, it will not only deprive them of adequate nutrition but also prevent the availability of raw material for the leather industry. More than 2.5 million people work in India’s leather industry and most of them are Dalits, especially those engaged in skinning the carcases. Hence, this prohibition will severely affect our disadvantaged sections, in terms of both their lives and livelihoods.”

His letter further said that "in my own state of Kerala, a vast majority of the population consume meat. So is the case with all the other South Indian states and North East Indian states. Even in states like Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Odisha and West Bengal, non-vegetarians out number vegetarians. Therefore, the new rules should have been introduced in consultation with the states. The absence of efforts to take the states into confidence on such a drastic move with far-reaching consequences is detrimental to our democracy. I am afraid it amounts to an intrusion into the rights of the states in our federal structure. The introduction of such restrictions in a hasty manner would certainly prove to be a challenge in upholding our plurality, the essence of our nation. It would also be against the principles of secularism and federalism enshrined in our constitution.”

The chief minister took up the cudgels against the Centre, saying Kerala didn't need lessons on food habits from New Delhi and Nagpur, referring to the central government and the RSS headquarters.

He also wrote to the chief ministers of all other states, pleading them to stand united and fight for the cause. He also urged them to write to the PM to repeal this order.

The state government even said openly that they cannot follow this notification and will challenge it. The issue has brought plaudits for Vijayan politically in and outside the state as many from the neighbouring states of Tamilnadu and Karnataka are applauding him. Some in social media even went to the extent of asking him to be their chief minister for the tough stand taken.

Even the opposition Congress is supporting the government in this matter. Opposition leader Ramesh Chen nit Hala has written to the chief minister asking him to call a special session of the assembly to bring in legislation to deal with the issue. The cabinet also decided to call a special session of the assembly.

Beef is a sensitive issue in Kerala because it is a delicacy of the state. The majority of the people in the state consume beef irrespective of their religion; consumption of beef was never associated with religion.

Arun Krishnan, a student from Thiruvananthapuram said,"It is a very deplorable policy. It is a challenge to the diversity of the country. You can’t have a cultural imposition from the centre to the states. You can expect the people of Kerala to protest this policy. Beef is symbolic of unity for the people of Kerala. Here Hindus, Muslims, Christians, everyone eats beef if at all we stop eating beef it will be for health reasons but definitely not on religious grounds."

Nithin Kunneparampil, a resident of Thiruvananthapuram said, "The impact in Kerala is very high because ours is a beef-loving state.The politics of cow, from the north, is being imposed on us. We don’t consider cow a “Gaumatha”. When people are more liberal, but medieval practices are being forced on us. We can never accept that if someone stops us from eating our favourite beef delicacy."

But among the protests, the youth Congress protested by slaughtering an ox calf in public, inviting widespread flak. The workers were suspended and Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi condemned it. The state police had registered a case against the protestors for public slaughter. This gave the BJP a breather. The party was on the defensive ever since the order came. Kummanam Rajashekaran, BJP state president, said that the state government was trying to create panic and the order was being misrepresented and it didn't ban beef.

A division bench of the high court, while hearing a PIL, observed that the order does not ban the sale, eating or slaughter of cattle, and it only regulates sale at market places.

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