The BJP-led government's cow protection Bill will encourage mob lynching and create more cattle syndicates in the state, Congress Lok Sabha MP Abdul Khaleque alleged on Wednesday.
The Bill which proposes to regulate slaughter, consumption and transportation of cattle was introduced to further the agenda of the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh and its provisions seek to ensure that beef cannot be sold almost anywhere in the state, he claimed.
"By imposing various restrictions on the transport of cattle, a new permit raj will be created, leading to a huge cattle syndicate in Assam," the MP from minority-dominated Barpeta constituency said at a press conference in Guwahati.
Tabling the Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021, in the assembly on July 12, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that government wants to repeal the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950 which, he claimed, lacks sufficient legal provisions to deal with the issue.
The Bill proposes to forbid sale and purchase of beef in places predominantly inhabited by Hindu, Jain, Sikh and other non-beef eating communities or within a radius of 5 kms of any temple, sattra (Vaishnav monasteries) or any other institution or area as may be prescribed by the authority.
The state government may, however, exempt certain places of worship or certain occasions for slaughter of cattle other than calf, heifer and cow for religious purposes.
"The 5-km clause is the defining feature of the proposed law which indirectly means that beef cannot be sold almost anywhere in Assam," Mr Khaleque said.
It will be tough to find a single location in the state that will meet such stringent conditions, he said.
"It is clearly evident that the bill is for accomplishing the agenda of the BJP and the RSS and this provision may encourage mob lynching and incite communal incidents in the state," the Congress leader said.
Mr Khaleque also slammed the Centre, which is responsible for protecting the country's border, claiming that it has failed to check cow smuggling across the Indo-Bangladesh border.
"The BJP government has been in power for the last seven years in New Delhi. What steps have been taken to end cow smuggling? I thank the Assam chief minister for exposing the Centre's lapses," he said.
The Himanta Biswa Sarma government has launched a crackdown on cow smuggling to neighbouring Bangladesh.
The Congress MP claimed that restriction on consumption of beef will violate the fundamental rights to food, though the government justified it by mentioning Article 48 of the Constitution which says that the state shall take steps for prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.
"Why is the BJP government giving importance only to Article 48 and not 47?" he asked.
Article 47 of the Constitution says that the state shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.
"Why does the chief minister not ban alcohol too?" Mr Khaleque asked and alleged that the BJP government is taking the shield of the Directive Principles to suit the party's agenda.