Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Assam’s plans to enact a cow protection law has raised concerns in neighbouring Meghalaya, which has a largely beef consuming population. In May, Assam governor Jagdish Mukhi announced the introduction of the legislation in the assembly session this month. The proposed law also envisages a complete ban on the transportation of cattle from other parts of the country.
Assam is the only source of the transportation of cattle and almost all goods from the rest of the country to the northeast. Though the legislation is yet to be enacted, the Assam government has stopped the entry of cattle into the state.
Most of the cattle that enter Assam gets supplied to other states in the region, where beef is consumed.
Meghalaya’s Khasi Jaiñtia Butchers Association general secretary Generous Warlarpih said their friends, who sell beef in Guwahati and Shillong, are complaining about the shortage of meat. “In fact, it is slowly becoming a rare commodity in Guwahati especially.”
He added Meghalaya, a Christian-dominated state, imports 90% of meat from other states via Assam. Warlarpih added the proposed legislation there will affect both supplies and lead to a steep rise in the price of beef.
“We hope the Meghalaya government foresees this problem and puts in place measures to ensure safe and smooth transportation of our cattle through Assam,” Warlarpih said. “We are already facing so many problems in bringing cattle to the state and cattle smuggling is also a major hurdle. If this law is going to be another burden, then it will be the people who will suffer.”
Meghalaya’s principal secretary (animal husbandry) GHP Raju said they are aware of Assam’s plan. “The laws by other states shall not create any inconvenience to the poor farmers of our state.” He added it was too premature to comment on a law yet to be enacted. Raju said the government will not allow such a law to impede meat consumption and will ensure smooth transportation of cattle via Assam. He added it is entirely up to Assam to enact legislation on cow protection since it is a state subject, “The Assam government, or for that matter any government, can create a mechanism to verify if the cattle have been brought from outside Assam and if their destination is Meghalaya. “If it is prohibited, then there has to be a mechanism to facilitate the transportation of cattle from other places to Meghalaya through Assam.”
Meghalaya chief secretary MS Rao said the citizens should not be unduly worried about this. “It is a non-issue, and we will handle it.”
Courtesy – Hindustan Times