Bengaluru: The new Congress government in Karnataka is contemplating amending the stringent Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle (Amendment) Bill, 2020, passed in the state legislature by the BJP government in 2021.
Hinting at the amendment and arguing that it would be done in the larger interest of farmers, K Venkatesh, animal husbandry and veterinary sciences minister, said: “If buffaloes can be slaughtered, why not cows?”
In an attempt to further justify his reasoning, the minister said farmers were struggling to maintain aged cattle and dispose of the dead. He claimed to have himself faced some difficulty in disposing of one of the cows that died at his farmhouse recently.
On the Amul-Nandini row, he said the government would take all necessary action to protect and promote the Nandini brand and safeguard marketing of its milk products at all levels in the larger interest of local milk producers, without allowing Amul to monopolise the market.
The erstwhile BJP government led by BS Yediyurappa had introduced two bills in 2010 and 2012, amending a 1964 Act. The bills were withdrawn in 2014 by the then Congress regime led by Siddaramaiah.
Unlike the 1964 Act, which allowed slaughter of bulls, bullocks and buffaloes, the new law bans the slaughter of “cow, calf of a cow and bull and bullocks of all ages and a buffalo below the age of 13 years”. The 1964 law allowed the slaughter of bullocks, buffaloes, male or female, if they were certified by a competent authority to be above the age of 12 years, incapacitated for breeding or deemed sick. That law had banned the killing of any cow or calf of a she-buffalo.
In February 2021, amid uproarious scenes with Opposition members tearing copies of the Bill, Karnataka Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle (Amendment) Bill, 2020, was passed by a voice vote in the Legislative Council.
In the amended Bill, BJP had enlarged the definition of cattle, made punishment harsher and raised the age-limit on cattle for slaughter. The 2020 bill also gave powers to cops to search premises and seize cattle and materials used or intended to be used for illegal cattle slaughter, with imprisonment from three to seven years and a penalty between Rs 50,000 and Rs 5 lakh for the first offence. Second and subsequent offences would attract penalties ranging between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 10 lakh.
As the then opposition leader, Siddaramaiah had argued that this legal provision affected beef eaters and those involved in activities such as transportation of cattle, leather industry and meat packaging industry.