The focus of the government should be on implementation, not amendment, says Jayasimha Nuggehalli who helped draft the rules. The only change should be to let go of small-time butchers.
As the Central government prepares to bring amendments to the controversial new notification on regulation of animal markets, Jayasimha Nuggehalli, the lawyer who helped draft the rules, said the exclusion of buffaloes would mean it is all just Hindu politics.
“I’ve maintained that the notification has nothing to do with Hindu politics, but if the government does end up excluding buffaloes from the notification, it would purely be the action of a Hindu party,” Nuggehalli, who is a former member of the legal sub-committee of the Animal Welfare Board of India, said in an interview. Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday that the government, which has been under enormous pressure to amend or roll back the notification, is “seriously going through the objections that have been raised”. Vardhan is the second minister in the Union cabinet to have hinted at amending the contentious new rule.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu had also said the government has received several representations from the public on its notification and is examining them. The new rules ban the sale of cows and buffaloes for slaughter through animal markets.
Nuggehalli said that the notification should stay as it is, and the focus of the government should be on implementation, not amendments. The only change that he would concede is about small-time butchers.
“Worst case scenario, I’d say let the rules not cover small-time butchers who kill an animal or two a day, who anyway buy the animals directly from farmers,” he said.
However, the notification must cover companies involved in exporting buffalo meat, without which the notification would be quite pointless, he added. Nuggehalli said he has never supported any bans, but he now sees the ban on the sale of cows and buffaloes for slaughter through animal markets as the only viable way of taking on the cattle market mafia. Regulating the markets is not a practical solution, he argues, because various law enforcement agencies agree that the mafia is, in fact, “uncontrollable”.
Moreover, the mafia is fraught with middlemen who have no emotional bond with animals whatsoever, as opposed to farmers. This results in the animals being kept in horrifying conditions of abuse including breaking their tails, transporting them in milk tankers, etc. There has been a countrywide row over the notification ever since it was first announced last month. Several state governments have argued that the Central government is overstepping its jurisdiction since animal markets come under the purview of state governments. It has also been alleged that the government is promoting a homogeneous upper-caste Hindu dietary culture in the guise of animal welfare. Nuggehalli argues that by no means does the notification aim to curb meat consumption. The changes in the supply chain are bound to be temporary, and the market will inevitably bounce back.
Demonetisation, he argued is a fitting example. There was severe shortage of cash, people took to digital payments, and when cash returned into the market, people went back to using cash, he said.
He has maintained that with this notification, it is the first time that any government has done something for animals, and the government must not undo it by buckling under pressure.
The fundamental question which must inform any debate on this matter, Nuggehalli said, is “whether we see any difference between a tomato and an animal with flesh and bones”.
- Sanya Dhingra is a Reporter with ThePrint. You can follow her on Twitter @DhingraSanya