Gujarat cattle-rearers hold 'mahapanchayat' to seek scrapping of bill on stray cattle

Gujarat Maldhari mahapanchayat spokesperson Nagjibhai Desai claimed more than 50,000 members of the community were present during the mega gathering

Photo courtesy: Twitter/ @gujratsamachar
Photo courtesy: Twitter/ @gujratsamachar
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PTI

Hundreds of cattle-rearers held a 'mahapanchayat' near Gandhinagar in Gujarat to demand scrapping of a bill passed by the state Assembly to tackle the menace of stray cattle in cities.

The bill provisions are against the Maldhari community, a representative of the cattle-rearers said on Monday after the mega gathering held at Shertha village near the state capital Gandhinagar on Sunday.

Gujarat Maldhari mahapanchayat spokesperson Nagjibhai Desai claimed more than 50,000 members of the community were present during the mega gathering.

The Gujarat Cattle Control (Keeping and Moving) In Urban Areas Bill, passed by the state Assembly in April this year, requires cattle-rearers to obtain a licence to keep such animals in cities and towns, failing which they may face imprisonment.

Following protests by the Maldhari community against the bill, Gujarat BJP chief CR Paatil in April said he had requested Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel to reconsider it, as the existing rules to control cattle menace in municipal corporation areas were sufficient and there was no need for a new law.

Gujarat government spokesperson Jitu Vaghani had also later announced that CM Patel decided not to implement the bill.


However, the Maldhari community members now want the government to permanently scrap the bill during the state Assembly session beginning from September 21.

"Gujarat BJP president CR Paatil had said the government will cancel the bill. Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel had said the bill was put on hold. A minister had said they will modify sections of the bill. Thus, there still exists ambiguity as to what exactly the government intends to do," Nagjibhai Desai said.

"We want the government to permanently cancel this bill by withdrawing it during the upcoming Assembly session because the provisions of the bill are against the Maldhari community," he said.

Desai also said they will continue the agitation until the bill is withdrawn.

During the mega gathering on Sunday, the community also pressed for other demands like giving farmer status to Maldharis, provide grazing land for cattle, 27 per cent reservation under the Other Backward Class (OBC) category in panchayats and cooperative bodies, and to conduct a caste census in Gujarat.

"To press for our demands, all Maldharis in the state will join a bandh call on September 21 by not selling milk either to households or cooperative dairies," Desai said.

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