PM Narendra Modi had campaigned against beef exports.
WASHINGTON, DC: The state of Maharashtra has banned beef: the president of India, Dr. Pranab Mukherjee, has signed into law a nearly 20-year-old old bill passed by the BJP-Shiv Sena state assembly in 1995, which now makes the slaughter of bulls and bullocks illegal, and anyone found selling the red meat, or in possession of it, can be jailed for five years and fined Rs. 10,000.
The slaughter of cows was previously prohibited in the state under the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act of 1976, reported The Indian Express.
“Thanks a lot Hon President Sir for the assent on Maharashtra Animal Preservation Bill. Our dream of ban on cow slaughter becomes a reality now,” Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis tweeted.
The new law is expected to affect tourism in a big way, akin to the prohibition rule imposed recently in Kerala.
Glyston Gracias, brand chef at Smoke House Deli, Mumbai, was quoted by The Indian Express as saying, “This is extremely sad to hear. I will have to go to another country. Most of the dishes at the restaurant are based on European cuisine. A lot of our foreign clientele, such as Japanese and Europeans, will miss beef on the menu. We will also lose out on alcohol sales because beef and beer go really well. I will find it difficult to do international cuisine.”
The new rule is expected to hit the Muslim community hard, some of whom own a majority of the beef-related businesses in the state.
Critics of the new rule say that it will render thousands of people without jobs and would result in spiraling of prices of other meats. The new rule is likely to be legally challenged in the courts.
A beef trader, Rajendra Dhende from Sangli was quoted by the Express as saying: “…There is nearly 61 per cent fodder shortage in the state. By banning the slaughter of old and infirm animals, the government is doing grave injustice to the healthy animals and farmers of Maharashtra.”
The move in Maharashtra is not totally unexpected as the prime minister Narendra Modi, campaigning last year before the general elections, had come out strongly against India being a top meat exporter, second only to Brazil.
An AFP report from July, 2014, had noted: “Beef exporters had some anxious moments in the build-up to May’s elections, when Modi accused the then-Congress government of staging a “pink revolution” — a reference to the meat industry and a play on the 1970s “green revolution”, which made India agriculturally self-sufficient.”
As of March 2014, Indian beef exports soared 31 percent to 1.5 million tons from the previous year, and were worth 264.6 billion rupees ($4.3 billion), according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).