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The hue and cry over ‘beef ban’ is very premature, especially in the
North-east. Like the Lokayukta, it is also a state subject. Many states
including Meghalaya are yet to appoint a Lokayukta. It is because most
people do not understand as to how a Lokayukta might affect their lives
too. But a ban on beef can have direct impact on those who consume the meat
regularly. Despite time and again being reminded that the ban on cow
slaughter as done by Maharashtra is a state subject, political parties with
considerable vote base among Christians and Muslims are trying to make it a
political issue. Some opposition parties in Meghalaya already expressed
their apprehension over the ban being implemented in the state in future.

It is but clear that the primary reason for this ban is the BJP-led
government’s commitment to the Hindutva agenda. The propagators of
the ban firstly took note of the country’s majority Hindu population and
secondly the ample use of dairy products by its population. They also have
a Supreme Court verdict on their side. In its 2005 order, the apex court
upheld the constitutional validity of anti-cow slaughter laws enacted by
different state governments. There is another reason till a few decades ago
for beef ban that farmers need the bulls to plough their fields. But that
logic almost holds no water with the use of modern technology such as
tractors in agriculture. Use of bulls in the field has become a history
several decades ago in some agriculturally-advanced states like Punjab.

Meghalaya having a majority population of Christians who are mostly tribals
cannot afford such a ban. But the situation has not warranted a ‘beef
party’ organised during BJP president Amit Shah’s visit to Shillong on
April 22 either. The state government of any party – even if BJP comes to
power in 2018 – will not impose a cow slaughter ban in a state like
Meghalaya. If rumours about pig fat being used to grease bullets could
trigger the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny, such a ban will definitely show the door to
any party out of state politics. Hullabaloo over a perceived beef ban in
the North-east would only create confusion among the public and spare the
BJP-led Central government from being put under scanner on real issues
concerning growth of the country.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on April 25, 2015)

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