As cow slaughter is already prohibited in a number of states in India, the Modi government has banned the sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter across the country.
The Environment Ministry notified on Friday that the stringent Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, The Hindu reported.
The notification stated that the member-secretary of an animal market committee will have to ensure that no person brings a young animal to the animal market.
According to Indian media, as of March, cow slaughter had been prohibited in 84% of states and union territories, which account for 99.38% of the population.
“No person shall bring a cattle to an animal market unless upon arrival he has furnished a written declaration signed by the owner of the cattle — stating the name and address of the owner of the cattle, with a copy of the photo identification proof,” the notice read.
Giving details of the identification of the cattle and stating that the cattle has not been brought to market for sale for slaughter, it added.
A senior environment ministry was cited as saying that the notification is in the direction of animal welfare.
The statement has described the “animal market” as a market place or sale yard to which animals are brought from other places and exposed for sale or auction and includes any lairage adjoining a market or a slaughterhouse.
Expressing his anger on the government’s move, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, “If they have banned the slaughter of cattle today, they will ban the consumption of fish tomorrow.”
NG Jayasimha, former member of the legal sub-committee of Animal Welfare Board of India, said that due to the present system of open markets that allowed trade of both milch and slaughter animals, and multiple buyers and sellers, it becomes impossible to trace an animal back to its farm of origin.
“Hence, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 have been notified. The rules prohibit the sale of animals for slaughter through the livestock markets so that animals for slaughter could be sought directly from farms, thus ensuring traceability and food safety,” he said.
On May 12, Indian police had arrested five men for “animal cruelty” after they were caught skinning a buffalo and beaten on suspicion of killing a cow, an animal considered sacred by Hindus.
Violence against Muslims and Dalits accused of killing the holy beasts has spiked in recent months.
Two Muslims were beaten to death recently on suspicion of stealing cows while another was killed by vigilantes for transporting dairy cattle by road last month.