The anti-cow slaughter bill appears to have gone into cold storage in Karnataka, for the time being, because the state government has chosen not to introduce it in the legislative council where the ruling BJP doesn’t have a majority.
The JD-S, facing criticism from farmers for lending its support to the government on land reform bill, put paid to BJP’s euphoria a day after the saffron camp celebrated the passage of the anti-cow slaughter Bill in the Assembly. The state’s upper house was adjourned sine die on Thursday (Dec 10).
The state’s Deputy Chief Minister CN Ashwath Narayan in an interview to NDTV defended the vigilante groups who go after the illegal cow lifters, resulting in violent clashes and killing of the suspected “smugglers.”
“Earlier, life was at risk for vigilantes… not those who were in the (cattle) trade,” Narayan told NDTV in response to concerns that the state’s new anti-cow slaughter bill will protect and embolden ‘Gau Rakshaks’.
The state has already banned cow slaughter since the 1960s. The bill has sought to expand the definition of ‘cattle’ to include bulls and buffaloes under 13 years of age. It seeks tougher punishment for those involved in any form of cattle slaughter.
Section 17 of the bill reportedly seeks to protect those from legal action who “act in good faith”. Though it is unclear whether the section can be applied to cow vigilantes, Narayan said the measure was framed with them in mind. “Vigilantes or anyone who is working for a cause and the law of the land should definitely have a scope to work in this provision,” he told NDTV.
There have been 115 incidents of cattle-related mob violence across the country since 2015 in which 46 people have died and 146 injured. Narayan said “in Karnataka, it is only the cow vigilantes who have lost their lives”.