Even as the Centre has introduced stringent rules regarding cattle slaughter, it was business as usual for beef sellers across Kerala on Saturday, with people queuing up to buy one of their favourite food items. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking for repeal of the new rules, which he termed an "intrusion into the rights of states".The opposition Congress also slammed the new rules, saying the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was behind the move as they were "trying to divide the society".Vijayan, who has earlier condemned the beef ban in some states as nothing but a ploy to go forward with the RSS agenda, in his letter to the Prime Minister said: "I request you to kindly intervene in this matter and repeal the newly imposed restrictions, so that the lives and livelihoods of millions of our fellow countrymen can be protected, while safeguarding the fundamental principles of our constitution."He pointed out that in Kerala, vast majority of the population consumes meat, as is the case with all other South Indian and Northeast Indian states."Even in states like Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Odisha and West Bengal, non vegetarians out number vegetarians."
Vijayan said the new rules should have been introduced in consultation with the states. "The absence of efforts to take the states into confidence on such a drastic move with far reaching consequences is detrimental to our democracy. I am afraid it amounts to an intrusion into the rights of the states in our federal structure. The introduction of such restrictions in a hasty manner would certainly prove to be a challenge in upholding our plurality, the essence of our nation. It would also be against the principles of secularism and federalism enshrined in our constitution," he added.Senior Congress leader A.K. Antony, speaking at a party meeting here, on Saturday said the order in Kerala will have "the value of a paper only" and it's "dangerous to implement this here"."This order will be torn and thrown into the dust bin. The RSS is behind the move as they are trying to divide the society," said Antony.Leader of Opposition and senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala told the media in Thrissur that the party will deal with the issue both legally and politically. The party has decided to observe Monday as a 'black day' to protest this "foolish law".
"The Centre cannot infringe on the rights of people, who have the freedom to decide on what they want to eat and what they do not. We will take up this issue very strongly," he said.Meanwhile, it was normal across Kerala on Saturday morning as hundreds of bovines were traded at the biggest cattle market in Kuzhalmandam, Palakkad district."The only thing we are worried is what will happen if the state government implements the rule. We doubt this is going to be practical. Anyway we will wait," a group of cattle traders told the media."We came as usual and started doing the same thing as we have been doing for years. Our customers are also here waiting to collect their packets of beef," said a butcher in the busy Kozhikode market.Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Kerala blamed the media for "twisting the facts" to rake up unnecessary issues.State BJP General Secretary M.T. Ramesh said it was most unfortunate that top leaders from various leading political parties linked the Friday order with Ramadan."It's meant to whip up passions as both the media and political parties are twisting the gist of the order. If anyone has any doubt on the order, the best way out is to seek legal help.
The order is very clear and many are feigning ignorance in order to take it up politically," said Ramesh.To protest the new order, the student and youth wing of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) held beef festivals across Kerala, where beef curry was served with tapioca, chapatti and other food items.At Kollam, Mahila Congress president Bindu Krishna prepared beef and served it to people in the main road."We will send a packet of this beef curry to Modi also," said Krishna.The price of beef stands at Rs 300 per kg here, and it costs around Rs 280 in towns and smaller cities.Meanwhile, the Union Environment Ministry on Saturday clarified that the rules were modified to prevent cruelty to animals in cattle markets and not to regulate cattle traded for slaughterhouses.The Ministry said the livestock markets are intended to become hubs for animal trade for agriculture, while animals for slaughter will have to be bought from farmers at farms.The statement said the notified rules will remove the scope for illegal sale and smuggling of cattle, a major concern for the government.