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The move comes on the heels of an overdrive in Uttar Pradesh against unlicensed meat industry by the newly-elected BJP government under Yogi Adityanath, and ahead of Assembly election in Gujarat later this year – a State held by the party since 1995.
According to the Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill — passed in the absence of the Congress, suspended for creating ruckus in the House, and with visitors gallery packed with saffron-clad Hindu priests — people found in possession of beef would face up to a maximum of a 10-year jail term and be fined between `1 lakh and `5 lakh.
The law also provides for permanent forfeiture of vehicles involved in illegal transportation of progeny of cows and beef.
The move has come eight months after seven Dalits were publicly flogged by self-styled cow vigilantes for allegedly skinning dead animals in Una, heightening fear among traders and consumers.
According to data by National Sample Survey Organisation, there were over 21 lakh consumers of beef in the State in 2011, a significant jump from over 19 lakh recorded in the year 2000. The move, critics say, would directly hit their access to cheap protein and dietary patterns.
The collateral of the ‘draconian’ law is likely to be leather tanners, a trade predominantly practised by Muslim and Dalit communities, who skin dead animals for a living, the last-mile link of a $12 billion nationwide industry.
According to reports, the State government is yet to grant identity cards that it had promised to Dalit leather tanners as a proof that they were merely skinning dead animals and not slaughtering them.
“If the government wants life imprisonment for cow slaughter, fine. But then, introduce an even stricter law to punish atrocities against Dalits. Will they do it?” asked Jayantibhai Makadia, president of the Gujarat Dalit Sangathan, speaking to news website Scroll.
“Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat has ordered the crackdown on illegal meat shops in Uttarkashi,” an official statement stated here yesterday.
Strict action will also be taken against those meat shops (illegal or legal) which are responsible for polluting the river bodies by dumping their waste into them, it said.
Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharti had recently asked the Chief Minister to ensure that such shops do not end up polluting the rivers of the hilly state.
__from Zee News.