A senior BJP leader of Garo hills in Meghalaya tried to allay fears over a beef ban in the state which will have assembly polls next year. “In Meghalaya, most of the BJP leaders eat beef. The question of banning beef does not arise in a state like Meghalaya, especially in Garo Hills. BJP leaders in Meghalaya are well aware of the historical background and the constitutional provisions in the hill areas for which beef ban will remain un-imposed,” BJP’s Tura district president Bernard N Marak in a statement.
Speaking to a national TV news channel, Marak went a step ahead and said if voted to power the BJP would make efforts for bringing down beef prices in the state which were prohibitive.
“We stand on the hills of three sisters (Garo, Khasi and Jaintia) which are constitutionally autonomous. These three sisters will decide what to ban and not to ban in their own land. Centre cannot dictate dos and don’ts in the scheduled areas as these areas do not fall under the regular regulations,” he said.
Meanwhile, controversy over the ban on sale of cattle for slaughter at animal markets kept the political pot boiling on Monday, with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee declaring her government will not accept the Centre’s move.
She called the ban imposed by the Narendra Modi government “undemocratic and unconstitutional”, and said it would be challenged legally.
Protests were organised in several parts of Tamil Nadu and Tamil Nadu’s opposition DMK threatened to launch an agitation on May 31.
Meanwhile, three Youth Congress workers, including its Kannur district president, were suspended by the party for slaughtering a calf in public after its video went viral on social media and triggered outrage, in an apparent damage control exercise.
The Congress distanced itself from the incident, saying those behind the incident have no place in the party and have been suspended.
Kannur YC district president Rijil Makkutty and activists Joshi Kandathil and Sharafuddin were suspended both from the YC and the Congress, party sources in Thiruvananthapuram said.
The AICC in-charge of communications, Randeep Surjewala, said such an action by Congress workers was “completely unacceptable” and was “alien to the civil society, our culture and founding principles”.
Kerala BJP president Kummanam Rajasekharan had posted the video of the incident on Twitter, calling it “cruelty at its peak”.
Later, police registered a case for slaughtering a calf in public during ‘beef fests’ organised across Kerala by the Congress and the Left on Sunday to protest the Centre’s ban. The BJP denounced the Kerala incident as “shameful” and “provocative”.
This is shameful and in many ways provocative. Political opposition happens but it is unfortunate that such an act has been committed happened, that too by youth Congress workers. It is unfortunate,” Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters in New Delhi.
On the warpath
Protests were held in several parts of Tamil Nadu, including Madurai, Coimbatore, Erode and Hosur. Several activists of a little known pro-Tamil outfit were detained in Madurai where they had organised a beef eating contest.
A group of students at IIT, Madras, held a ‘beef-fest’ on their campus on Sunday night.
Raising the pitch on the issue, opposition parties urged the AIADMK government to enact a law against the ban.
Cow slaughter ban: Don’t need food lessons from Delhi, Nagpur, says Kerala CM
DMK slammed the EK Palaniswami government for “keeping mum” on the matter when neighbouring Kerala and Karnataka had vehemently opposed the ban.
DMK working president MK Stalin will lead a protest on May 31 in Chennai against the ban, the party said, adding “the fundamental right to choice of food granted by the Constitution has been snatched away”.
“It (the Centre’s move) is a deliberate attempt to encroach on the state’s powers. It is undemocratic, unconstitutional and unethical. It is also an attempt to destroy the federal structure of the country,” CM Banerjee told journalists in Kolkata.
“We are not accepting the ban. We will challenge it legally. We will consult the state’s advocate general on this matter. I will request the Centre not to interfere with the state’s matter and destroy the federal structure,” Banerjee said.