Government licence, fitness certificates, sale in only designated spots and definitely not in areas dominated by non-beef-eating communities -- these are some of the clauses in the new Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021, introduced today in the state Assembly. Once passed, it will replace the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950.
The cabinet of Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had on July 8 cleared the draft legislation, primarily aimed at stopping the movement of cattle from other parts of the country into Assam and vice-versa.
Under the new law, cattle can be slaughtered in Assam only with authorities' permission and at a licensed slaughter house after government veterinary officers issue fitness certificates. In any case, cows and their calves cannot be killed. Cattle aged above 14 years are otherwise permitted to be slaughtered. However, cattle can be slaughtered on religious occasions.
Sale and purchase of beef and beef products will be allowed only in designated places -- and definitely not in areas predominantly inhabited by Hindu, Jain, Sikh, and other non-beef eating communities. Such trade won't be allowed within a 5 kilometres radius of any temple, satra, or other religious institutions belonging to the Hindu religion.
No transportation of cattle will be allowed and no transit of cattle will allowed into Assam from other states or from it without a permit.
A police officer not below the rank of sub-inspector and registered veterinary officers may enter and inspect any premises for violations.
In case of a violation, the accused won't get bail until the public prosecutor has been given an opportunity of being heard on such a petition. If convicted under the new law, a person can be imprisoned for up to eight years and fined up to Rs 5 lakh.
The opposition has said it will react after going through the bill. An Assembly debate may ensue later this week.
Ahead of the election in Assam this year, the main opposition parties had criticised the previous government of allegedly having links with illegal cattle trade.