An Indian minister pushed for a new law banning the slaughter of cows in order to those who have carried out vigilante attacks to protect the animals.
C N Ashwath Narayan, deputy chief minister of the state of Karnataka, made the statement after the state’s lower house passed the “beef ban” Wednesday, according to The Independent. The law, if enacted, would punish the smuggling, illegal transportation or killing of any cattle with three to seven years in prison and up to $6,600 in fines.
.@OnReality_Check | “In Karnataka, it is the cow vigilantes who have lost lives and not the people involved in illegal trade”: Ashwath Narayan, Deputy Chief Minister, Karnataka#NDTVExclusive pic.twitter.com/Q0Iko0Hybg
— NDTV (@ndtv) December 10, 2020
Female cows are considered sacred symbols in Hinduism, but some Indian states allow the slaughter of male bulls and cows who are elderly or incapacitated. These laws have become more restrictive since 2014, when the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took power, according to The Independent.
At least 44 people were killed and 280 were injured in India between May 2015 and December 2018 as a result of vigilante attacks on those seen as linked to the beef industry, according to a Human Rights Watch report.
Narayan disputed this narrative, saying, “People in the (cattle) trade were completely armed. They were taking lives and killing people. It is not the vigilantes,” The Independent reported. (RELATED: Rogue Mobs Of ‘Cow Vigilantes’ Are Killing Beef Eaters In India)
Janata Dal (Secular) Party leader H D Kumaraswamy argued that the bill would lead to undue hardship for cattle ranchers, accoridng to The Independent.
The law will not be debated in the upper house until the next legislative session.