Below we reproduce the text of the letter written by the chief minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan to the prime minister’s office on May 27.
THIS is to bring to your attention the recent Government of India’s gazette notification imposing restrictions on cattle trade, which would have serious impact on the livelihoods of millions of Indians.
It may be noted that the notification issued by the ministry of environment, forest and climate change regarding the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 mandates that cattle can be traded only by those who have valid documentation that the cattle will be used only for agricultural purposes. Of the millions of farmers in our country, only a miniscule number of them have documentation to prove that they are engaged in agriculture. Therefore, it would be extremely difficult for the vast majority of our farmers to legally procure draught animals used for agriculture and other domestic purposes.
The rules also envisage the constitution of District Animal Market Monitoring Committees and an Animal Market Committees. The constitution of such committees to monitor cattle trade will also jeopardise the free hand trade of cattle between farmers in our country. Legitimate fears are also being raised if they would take upon themselves the role of Gau Rakshak Samitis which have conducted attacks on cattle traders and transporters in the recent past.
May I also remind you that meat is the primary source of protein for millions of poor and ordinary people in this country, particularly the Dalits. Such restrictions being imposed on the eve of Ramzan, would certainly appear to certain communities of our country as a direct attack on them. People of all faiths consume meat in our country, not just the minorities. Once the prohibition comes into effect, it will not only deprive them of adequate nutrition, but also prevent the availability of raw material for the leather industry. More than 2.5 million people work in India’s leather industry and most of them are Dalits, especially those engaged in skinning the carcasses. Hence, this prohibition will severely affect our disadvantaged sections, in terms of both their lives and livelihoods.
I am sure you are very well aware that India has a thriving meat export industry and that we are the global leaders in the field. The prohibition of sale of cattle for slaughter will have a cascading effect on Indian industry as a whole, especially because of an insurmountable deficiency that will occur in our foreign exchange because of the drop in meat export. Several state owned meat processing industries across the country, like Kerala’s Meat Products of India Ltd., would become unviable because of the new regulations and hence would be forced to shut down.
In my own state of Kerala, vast majority of the population consume meat. So is the case with all the other South Indian states and North East Indian states. Even in states like Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Odisha and West Bengal, non vegetarians outnumber vegetarians. Therefore, the new rules should have been introduced in consultation with the states. The absence of efforts to take the states into confidence on such a drastic move with far reaching consequences is detrimental to our democracy. I am afraid it amounts to an intrusion into the rights of the states in our federal structure. The introduction of such restrictions in a hasty manner would certainly prove to be a challenge in upholding our plurality, the essence of our nation. It would also be against the principles of secularism and federalism enshrined in our constitution.
I conclude by requesting you to kindly intervene in this matter and repeal the newly imposed restrictions, so that the lives and livelihoods of millions of our fellow countrymen can be protected, while safeguarding the fundamental principles of our constitution.