Protesting the BJP government’s anti-people restrictions on cattle trade and on people’s right to choose food of their will and choice, CPI(ML) along with several organizations (including SDPI, New Socialist Alternative, Anti-Imperialist Movement and Karnataka Tamil Makkal Iyakkam) held a demonstration in Bangalore Town Hall on 2 June 2017. Around 20 leaders including CPI(ML) leaders Balan, Clifton Rozario, Appanna, Vinay, Rajith and Shankar were arrested during the protest and placed under police custody. Subsequently, activists protested the detention of those taken under custody.
Several issues were highlighted by the protestors. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 notified by the Central Government goes against the letter as well as the spirit of the Constitution. This notification, moreover, has led to an emergency-like situation across the country. These Rules which claim to just regulate “livestock markets” have had the effect of banning the sale of bulls, bullocks, cows, buffaloes, steers, heifers and calves and camels. This is because animals can be sold at the markets only with great difficulty, and anyone wanting to purchase an animal for slaughter must effectively go to each farmer’s doorstep. Every cattle owner must possess ID cards of the cattle to be sold, and, further every owner and purchaser must provide an undertaking that the cattle is not being sold/bought for slaughter. Also, it allows only farmers who own land to trade at animal markets, since every seller has to provide property documents of their land. As a result, poor farmers cannot even sell their old cows, bulls and buffaloes.
This is the RSS strategy to push through a ban on cow slaughter by any means necessary. These Rules will destroy the economy and cause total destruction of the livelihoods of farmers and peasants and all those dependent on the beef industry and leather industry. These rules go against the diverse cultural realities of the country and violate people’s fundamental right to food especially since beef is the cheapest available nutritious food for many. The rules will also make agriculture even less profitable. The government wants to stop all small farmers from farming and make sure that they hand over their land to contract farmers and industries. Moreover, instead of focusing on shelter, agriculture, education, health and employment, the government is focusing on cultural wars.
In Karnataka, there have been more than 70 incidents of cow vigilantism over the past three years. The Supreme Court has come down harshly on the Government for not reigning in these vigilantes who indulge in hooliganism in the name of cow protection. Now, the RSS has come up with a new strategy: the goondas who beat up and kill in the name of the cow will now be placed in official positions in two Committees contemplated under the new Rules of the Central government (one for each market and District). They will officially represent animal welfare organizations.
The protestors pointed out communalization of society and enforcing of cultural habits cannot be tolerated in a democratic society. They demanded the immediate withdrawal of these Rules.