In Meghalaya, BJP Doesn't Want A Ban On Beef

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Meghalaya's BJP president wants hygienic slaughter houses, not ban on beef. (Representative Photo)


SHILLONG:  One of the most strident supporters for a complete ban on slaughter of cows, buffaloes and ox elsewhere, the BJP has a tough balancing act to perform in Meghalaya, a Christian-dominated state in the northeast that counts beef as a basic, and affordable source of protein for the masses.

This week, BJP leaders elsewhere in the country backed the Centre for its tough cattle trade rules that would make it tougher for the meat industry to source animals for slaughter.

In Meghalaya where the BJP is hoping to wrest power from the ruling Congress, a prominent BJP leader in the state was promising cheaper beef for the people if the party came to power in elections expected to be held early next year.

"We, the Garos are Christian and beef is like a staple food for us. So we cannot support beef ban," Bernad Marak, the BJP's face in the tribal West Garo Hills said. And he isn't the only one.

So while the cattle trade rules - that bars people from buying cattle for slaughter at animal markets - is being seen as a tool to curb slaughter, some BJP leaders have been trying to explain to the people how it would curb smuggling of cows to neighbouring Bangladesh. Once this happens, people are being told the excess supply would pull down prices of cows, and beef for local consumption.

The BJP's president of the Meghalaya unit Shibun Lyndoh doesn't go that far and calls Mr Marak's opinions his own, not the party's. But he too doesn't want a ban on cow slaughter.

"We are not against people having beef. In Meghalaya, we want proper scientific and hygienic slaughter houses to be set up. There should be regulations. Total beef ban is something that even people here do not support," he told NDTV.

Party leaders said the state unit has already written to Nalin Kohli, the BJP in-charge for Meghalaya about the concern among people in the state on the party's stand on beef.

The state BJP doesn't want the ban to trickle down to Meghalaya in any form, especially in the run up to the 2018 state polls. "For us, beef is a culture and much more than just a food item, and BJP should not dare to ban it in the state," said a resident in Meghalaya capital Shillong.

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