Protests breakout after India bans cattle slaughter

2017-06-01 Vatican Radio

The Church leaders in India say the Government’s ban on sale of cattle for slaughter across the country is a violation of human rights.

The nationwide ban has alarmed minority groups and led to protests in several states. Beef is a cheap source of protein for Muslims and Christians who together form 20 percent of India's population as well as tribal and Dalit people.

The environment ministry banned the sale of cattle, buffaloes and camels for slaughter through animal markets and banned establishing livestock markets within 50 kilometers of an international border and 25 kilometers of a state border. Livestock markets will only be able to trade cattle for agricultural purposes such as ploughing and dairy production. Taking the animal over state boundaries would also require special approval, the government's May 26 order has said.

To the Hindu religion, cows are sacred animals and killing them is a sin. Orthodox Hindus worship them as "gods" symbolizing peace and prosperity.

According to Father Maria Stephen, public relations officer of the Catholic Church in Madhya Pradesh, the ban is part of the government's "hidden agenda" in appeasing hard-line Hindus.

"If the government is so concerned about animal cruelty, it should ban the killing of all the animals and birds," Father Stephen told ucanews.com.

Food habits are an individual choice and the government's move to restrict it according to its ideological wishes in a democratic country "is blatant violation of individual rights," he said.

The powerful pro-Hindu socio-religious Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) group has been pushing the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) for a countrywide ban on the slaughter of cows. The federal government is led by the pro-Hindu BJP, the political wing of the RSS. (UCAN)

(from Vatican Radio)