Abandoning cows could soon land you in jail in Madhya Pradesh

The proposed bill, on top of the already existing cow-protection legislation, is being seen as an attempt by the BJP govt to polarise the vote ahead of this year’s state election.


Kashif Kakvi

In the lead-up to assembly elections in the state later this year, the Madhya Pradesh government is pushing its Hindutva agenda to polarise the electorate. The state government is said to be working on tabling a new cow-protection legislation, the third recent attempt by the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government to apparently appease the Hindu vote, after two religious yatras – Narmada and Ekatam.

The proposed bill envisages jail-time of three to seven years for those who abandon their cows. Additionally, the punishment for cow slaughter has been extended to seven years from the existing three years.

The recommendations come amid allegations of neglect against authorities of the BJP-ruled state by Congress, in the wake of death of cows in government-run shelters in Susner tehsil of Agar Malwa district.

The proposed bill further empowers the district administration, which would be able to register complaint against any owner who have abandoned their cows. A draft of the bill has been sent to the Law Department for further modifications.

If the bill is passed in the state legislature, it would mean further amendments to the Madhya Pradesh Gauvansh Vadh Pratishedh Adhiniyam, 2004 (anti-cow slaughter law). The existing law would be renamed as Gauvansh Sanrakshan evam Vadh Prat­ishedh Adhiniyam.

Almost 300 cows had died of unknown reasons at a government-run Salariya cow sanctuary, located in Agar district.

While the Congress party has been demanding an investigation into cow deaths, the sanctuary au­thorities claim that the cows died due of ‘natural’ reasons. A senior official privy to the proposal said unchecked bovine expansion had af­fected the rural economy and was regularly blocking traffic on highways. The stray cow menace assumed alarming proportions as the animals raided crops, forcing the state government to think about applying punitive measures to owners who abandon their cattle.

It will be fourth amendment to the act—

-The existing act was enacted in 2004 and amended in 2012, with a provision to raise the maximum punishment for cow slaughter from three years of imprisonment to seven, besides imposing a minimum fine of Rs 5,000.

Around three months ago, another amendment was proposed with a three to seven year imprisonment period for the offenders. But the amendment was silent on those who let lose their cows after the animals became ‘unproductive’. Hence, a fresh amendment is being made to deter the desertion of cows by owners.

Accidents per day due to stray cows-

According to a survey conducted by Dial-100 first response vehicle service, ten road accidents happen on average daily because of stray cows choking the roads. Altogether, 5,228 such accidents were reported between April 2016 and September 2017 in the state.

It’s new Chara Ghotala

The leader of Opposition Ajay Singh along with PCC chief Arun Yadav reached Salariya cow sanctuary to take stock of prevailing situation and claimed that more than 300 cows have died within a few days because they were not fed properly. It is a new Chara Ghotala going in the sanctuary, they asserted.

Three cows die every day

RK Rokade, the director of Animal Husbandry Directorate, said that only 158 sick cows succumbed to their deaths, and not 300. He said that around 5,000 cows stay in the sanctuary, of which 40 percent were sick and weak. On average, three cows die every day, he added.

Is it farmer-friendly?

-Unproductive cows become liabilities and farmers are unwilling to spend money on rearing unproductive animals.

-Farmers who used to sell their cows after they stopped producing milk are no longer able to do so.

-Selling cows for slaughter is illegal. With no avenue to sell their cattle, farmers prefer to abandon them than spending on feeding them.

-This has led to many abandoned cows wandering into farms, destroying crops and prompting a new man-animal conflict.

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