The ban on sale of cattle for slaughter to livestock markets, which amounts to a restriction on beef, has come both as a surprise and a provocation for the tribal people of the Northeastern states, where beef is a staple food.
The fact is that in the hills of the Northeastern states, most people eat beef, pork and meat of other animals such as dogs. In fact, the Naga tribals maintain that dog meat has significant medicinal value.
The outrage over the recent notification banning the sale of cattle to slaughter houses was so strong that even BJP leaders from Meghalaya and Nagaland took the lead in opposing the ban. Other political parties also joined the chorus.
A senior minister in the Nagaland government, Mr Imkong Imchen, said, “Nagaland is not going to implement this law related to cow slaughter,” he added, “There is no need for a policy (amounting) to a ban cow slaughter in Nagaland.”
The minister of the ruling Naga People’s Front, which is an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA government at the Centre said, “This restriction on sale of cattle for slaughter amounts to a ban on beef-eating, which is a traditional food habit in Nagaland.”
The ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter has also sent BJP strategists in the Northeast into a tizzy as they fear that it may block the saffron party’s stride in the region where three Christian-dominated states — Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya — are heading for polls next year.
Assam health minister, and BJP’s key strategist for the Northeast, Himanta Biswa Sarma says, “The only issue here is of cultural diversity in some parts of the country. Within the Northeast too, there is diversity on this issue. For example, in Assam there is a strong feeling that there should be a ban on cow slaughter, but in neighbouring states there are people who eat beef.” Comprehending the political implication of the beef ban in Northeastern states, he, while addressing people in Meghalaya, said that there would be no ban on beef-eating in the Northeast.
Bernard N. Marak, a senior BJP leader from Meghalaya who quit the part over the ban, said before resigning, “The question of banning beef in our state does not arise as most of BJP leaders in Meghalaya himself eat beef.” He went on to say that “if BJP is voted to power, we will regulate the prices of beef, which has gone beyond the reach of the common man now.”
Nagaland BJP chief Visasolie Lhoungu said, “Ban on cow slaughter like the one in Uttar Pradesh won’t take effect in Nagaland if our party comes to power next year. The reality here is very different and our central leaders are aware of that.”
Mizoram BJP president J.V. Hluna said, “There would be no ban on cow slaughter in Mizoram and other states in the region where the majority of people are Christians.”...