Beef lovers in Maharashtra today reacted with dismay at a new law that will make it extremely difficult for them to enjoy their favourite meat.
President Pranab Mukherjee has ratified the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill passed when the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance was in power in 1995, which bans the slaughter of calves and bullocks completely. Only the consumption of buffaloes, which give inferior quality beef, will be allowed. The state banned cow slaughter long before in 1976, during Congress rule.
Anyone found selling beef or eating it can be jailed for five years and fined Rs 10,000.
"Thanks a lot honourable President sir for the assent on Maharashtra Animal Preservation Bill. Our dream of ban on cow-slaughter becomes reality now," Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted.
Beef costs almost a third of mutton and is a popular red meat choice. But buffalo meat is largely exported and only eaten by 25 per cent of beef eaters. India is the second biggest exporter of beef after Brazil.
Several people expressed strong reactions on social media, with the hashtag #BeefBan becoming a top trend on twitter. At one point, it was number four on trending topics worldwide.
"Where's the beef ? Mr. Phadnis (Fadnavis) and others, I am willing to face 5 years in jail to defend the right of beef eaters in Maharashtra," remarked writer Shobhaa De.
Supporting the ban, former actor Raveena Tandon tweeted, "We believe everything (living and non0living) is a manifestation of the divine consciousness. Hence respect for all."