This Article is From Dec 11, 2020

Karnataka Cow Protection Bill Hasn't Crossed Council Hurdle Yet, But Many Worried

Even the possibility of such a law has left many feeling vulnerable and fearing the worst.

The government's assurance that there will be no harassment has few takers.


Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa today performed cow puja at his official residence in Bengaluru. His party is celebrating the passing of a new cow protection bill by the state Assembly this week, though the BJP knows it lacks the numbers to sail through the Legislative Council, a move necessary to make it a law.

"The whole world knows that Hinduism regards the cow as most sacred. The cow is considered wealth in this agrarian country. In our Vidhana Soudha (Legislative Assembly) this bill has been passed," Mr Yediyurappa said.

The numbers in the Legislative Council, however, are dominated by the Congress and the Janata Dal Secular, both of which have made it clear they weren't in favour of such a law.

"I sat in the Council from 11 am to 4 pm. I had hoped it would be passed. But we didn't have the quorum...I had hoped the Congress would support the Bill, but they didn't and the Chairman favoured the Congress...I felt pain," Karnataka Animal Husbandry Minister Prabhu Chavan told NDTV. The legislature session was cut short and ended on Thursday, though the Chief Minister hopes it can reconvene this week.

In any case, even the possibility of such a law has left many feeling vulnerable and fearing the worst.

A part of the bill, which allow search and seizure by a police officer of the rank of sub-inspector and above, already has people worried over potential harassment and abuse.

"(An) officer concerned...can do search and seizure when he has reason to believe there is commission of an offence. There is a great deal of difference between having credible information for committing an offence and 'reason to believe' that an offence has been committed," said Advocate BT Venkatesh, Founder of human rights non-profit ReachLawyer.

A restaurant owner, meanwhile, wondered if his trade will be treated like any other contraband network under this law. "This is equivalent to having drugs now. Like how our police seize drugs - they are trying to seize this as well," the restaurateur said.

The BJP, however, assures no such harassment will occur.

"That kind of thing will not happen. If there is a complaint, if something is seen, our people will go. They will not go to houses - it is not that kind of law," Mr Chavan said.

Concerns persist, though, as the party is insistent on bringing in the law somehow.

"We know how to get this done," Mr Chavan said.