This Article is From Oct 09, 2015

Amid Beef Politics, A Note From PM's Office Draws Attention

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi

New Delhi: As Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces opposition demands for his statement on the mob killing of a Muslim man over beef rumours, NDTV has seen a note from his office asking states to consider legislation banning cow slaughter.

The note suggests that a cow slaughter bill enacted in PM Modi's home state Gujarat can be the model for such legislation in all states.  It mentions that the Gujarat bill was backed by the Supreme Court in 2005, and cites a clause in the Constitution that says that states must take steps to "prohibit the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle".

The note was written before the lynching of 52-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri in Uttar Pradesh last week, but becomes significant in the politically charged aftermath of the killing. The blacksmith was dragged out of his home and beaten to death over rumours that he had killed a calf and had kept beef in his house.

The minister who deals with the subject of cow slaughter says he is not aware of the note from the Prime Minister's office.

"I am not hasn't come to me or my ministry," said Sanjeev Balyan, the minister of state for Agriculture.

After the Dadri killing, Mr Balyan had declared that the government would set up laboratories at Mumbai ports to make sure that buffalo meat being exported is not actually cow meat.

Beef-eating has long been a controversial subject for political parties, but the debate has intensified now.

During his national election campaign last year, PM Modi had condemned "the widespread murder of our cows."

Besides Gujarat, cow killing is also banned in states like Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. Maharashtra was the latest to impose the ban earlier this year.

In Bihar, which will go to polls on Monday, senior BJP leaders have vowed to ban cow slaughter if they win. The party has aggressively targeted rival politician Lalu Prasad Yadav for commenting recently that "Hindus eat beef too, especially the poor who are forced to."

Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh has said that his party is open to a discussion on a national ban.