Sri Lanka may soon ban cow slaughter. The ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), which won a two-thirds majority in the parliamentary elections last month, has decided to ban slaughtering of cows across the island nation. However, the import of beef is allowed.
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa discussed the issue with his SLPP Parliamentary group on Tuesday.
Cabinet spokesperson and Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella was quoted in local media as saying that Rajapaksa has submitted a proposal and that he had said he "hopes to ban cattle slaughter". He was also quoted as saying that Rajapaksa would decide when he would submit the proposal to the government.
Rambukwella's statement was confirmed by multiple official sources.
In Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka, about 99% people are meat-eaters. But the majority Hindus and Buddhists do not eat beef.
The influential Buddhist monks, mostly with Rajapaksa-led SLPP, have been pressurising successive governments to ban cow slaughter for religious reasons.
The SLPP, which draws most of its strength from the majority Sinhala-Buddhist community, has openly said it does not need to appease the minority religious or ethnic groups to come to and retain political power.
Beef is regularly consumed by the minority Muslims and Christians, particularly those who are of European descent. Both these groups are not very influential in the nation's politics and the ruling party has not courted them in their election campaigns.
Sources in the Prime Minister's office said "there was no formal proposal and certainly no cabinet papers have been prepared to enforce such a ban in the near future".
Two years ago, Tamil-dominated North witnessed protests led by Hindus demanding a complete ban on cow slaughter. It had generated good support even in the Sinhalese Buddhist-dominated Southern Sri Lanka.
After the Easter Bombings of April 2019, anti-Muslim sentiments are growing stronger among the Sinhalese.