In Assam Too, Cattle Markets Brace Up For Troubled Times Ahead

Like much of the northeast, cow slaughter is not banned in Assam where the BJP leads a coalition government after last year's election.

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In the weekly cattle market near Guwahati, the number of cattle for sale has dropped by 40 per cent


GUWAHATI:  At the weekly cattle market in Balikuchi 50 km from Guwahati in Assam, cattle traders are a worried lot. There are about 500 animals up for sale, down from the average of 800 till a few weeks earlier.  That is, before the government introduced a nationwide ban on sale of cattle for slaughter at the animal markets.

"People are terrified and disturbed and that is why they are not coming to the market," acknowledged Afaz Ali, who organises the weekly cattle market, told NDTV.

Sofed Ali, 55, who has been trading cattle for over 35 years, breaks into tears as he spoke about how the fresh restrictions could end the only means of livelihood that he has known.

"Everyone here who is trading in cattle is poor and marginal trader. We make about 10 thousand to 20 thousand a month to run our families. Now there is great threat," Mr Ali says, wondering why the government was being so difficult. "The government is not looking at our losses," he said, wondering why the government had a problem since the cattle sold in the market did not end up in Bangladesh.

Like much of the northeast, cow slaughter is not banned in Assam where the BJP leads a coalition government after last year's election. The Assam Cattle Preservation Act 1950 permits slaughter of all cattle over 14 years of age or injured.

But traders say the rules still lead to more harassment.

"After the news of the new notification the policemen who used to take 20, 30 rupees to allow us to carry more cattle in one vehicle, now that are charging us Rs 200," said Ajzal Ali a local farmer.

The traders said they had tried to reach out to the state government to ascertain what the rules really meant for them but there had been no clarification forthcoming.


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