Ban on Sale and Slaughter of Cattle Triggers Mobocracy

It has been observed lately that some of the policy decisions of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, India , either cause severe hardship to common man or communalise the situation and encourage mob violence.

It has been observed lately that some of the policy decisions of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, India , either cause severe hardship to common man or communalise the situation and encourage mob violence. Demonetization and blanket ban on sale and slaughter are apparently two such decisions recently promulgated by the NDA government. They have caused immense inconvenience and hardship to people. More than 100 lives were lost because of demonetization. It seems that the Muslim minority in India is the principal target of the ban on sales and slaughter of cattle. It is proposed to focus on this issue in this article.

Ban on Sale and Slaughter of Cattle

Before we discuss the socio-economic consequences of the ban on sale and slaughter of cattle we would like to be enlightened as to when the cow was declared a sacred animal in the Hindu religion. Is there any reference to it in the Vedas, Upanishads, Gita, Ramayana or any other authentic religious text?

The Ministry of Environment. Government of India promulgated a notification on May 31, 2017, under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules 2017 banning sale and slaughter of bovine animals including bulls, bullocks, cows, buffaloes, steers, heifers, calves and camels. The notification imposed a complete ban on the trade or sale or purchase of cattle and on their slaughter. This notification is unconstitutional because animal husbandry and trade in animals, bovines or other animals, is a state subject.

It appears that the main purpose of this notification is to harass Muslims and force them to change their dietary habits. Those who drafted the Rules did not scrutinize its consequences in all its ramifications. They ignored the fact that it will gravely damage the economy of the country, adversely affect the income of farmers and land owners in rural areas. They were obsessed with the beef eating habits of Muslims and Dalits and were determined to force them to stop it. Hence these Rules were promulgated with missionary zeal.

Cattle Ban and Rise of Vigilantism

One of the tragic consequences of this rule was that the bigoted fanatic adherents of the BJP, RSS, Bajrang Dal and their associates, the so called GaoRakshaks or vigilantes, unleashed a torrent of violence against Muslims in the BJP ruled states on false and fabricated charges. Muslims were terrorized and brutally killed. Mohd.Akhlaq Khan inDadri, UP was falsely accused of keeping beef in his refrigerator by a mob of goons and was killed. Likewise Pehlu Khan in Bhawalpur, Rajasthan was lynched and killed. Mohammad Junaid was thrashed in a train and was stabbed to death by co-passengers at Ballabgarh station, Haryana for just being a beef eater. Recently Saleem Shah, a BJP worker, was thrashed in the suburbs of Nagpur, for carrying some beef.

It seems that mobocracy is ruling the BJP governed states where even the Dalits were terrorized and treated violently. A mob attacked a Dalit village in Saharanpur, U.P. killed one person. Earlier in Una village in Gujarat a Dalit was lynched to death.

The most tragic part of the story is that these goons take law in their own hands and thrash anyone who opposes them. The law enforcing authorities do not intervene to arrest and punish these criminals. Recently in a train near AmbalaCantt, in Haryana a disabled person asked three young men who were in the same compartment not to smoke. They ignored his request. They thrashed him when he insisted and threw him out of the train when it stopped at AmbalaCantt. It is most amazing that they are committing these criminal acts with impunity and are not being punished despite the stay order on cattle ban by the Supreme Court and stern warning to the vigilantes by the Prime Minister. This is a danger signal and a serious cause for concern for the law and order authorities both in the states and at the Centre. Lawlessness, terrorism by vigilantes and mobocracy are increasing phenomenally and severely distorting the image of the country. This must be crushed in order to ensure peace and tranquility in India. While the Prime Minister is rightly stressing on the termination of terrorism at international level he should not overlook the internal terrorism unleashed by the adherents of his own party the so called “GaoRakshaks” or vigilantes.

The ban on sale and slaughter of cattle has the potential to damage leather industries significantly. On account of the slowdown of the cattle market the tanneries are reporting shortage of hides. Uttar Pradesh is the largest centre for leather industry after Tamil Nadu. The leather industry in U.P. is organized underinformal sector. Agra, in Uttar Pradesh is the largest shoe making centre for the domestic market. It turns out a million pairs of shoes a day. It employs more than 4 million people and nearly 40 percent of the population of Agra depends on this industry.

Leather industry is considered as a focus sector for development because of its great export and employment potential. Presently It is a 22 billion dollar industry. The Prime Minister has targeted to raise it to 27 billion dollar industry by 2019. This target may not be attained because of the ban on sale and slaughter of cattle.


The promulgation of Rules banning sale and slaughter of cattleis a product of blind religious belief. They are undermining the liberal values of India..Bigotry and fanaticism are so deep rooted among the adherents of BJP, Bajrang Dal, RSS and their associated organizations that they do not tolerate any criticism which are immediately dubbed as anti-national. This is borne out by the rude, rough and aggressive treatment of the students of Indian Film Institute and of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

This intolerance of dissent was forcefully demonstrated by the CBI raids on the premises of Prannoy Roy and Raadhika Roy, promoters of NDTV. This raid on a respectable and distinguished media personality was universally condemned.

The BharatiyaJanta Part led government at the centre has no use for the civil society activism or the politics of dissent. The government along with the front organisations of the religious right is determined to take over the political space as well as civil society. It will not hesitate to use its awesome power to suppress freedom of expression and control the lives and liberties of the citizens. It will not hesitate to toss out secularism and replace it with religious fanaticism. It wants to demolish secularism and decimate democracy. If it succeeds that will be a black day in the history of democratic India.

Even the veterans including retired Admirals and Generals in their 30 July 2017 letter to the Prime Minister have expressed their deep dismay over the unprecedented attacks by the relentless vigilantes targeting the Muslims and Dalits. They unequivocally wrote, “We can no longer look away. We would be doing a disservice to the country if we do not stand up for the liberal and secular values that our Constitution espouses”.

Choice Before Indian Muslims

At this critical juncture in the history of India when the liberal and secular values of Indian civilization are under siege and Indian Muslims and Dalits are being mercilessly lynched and killed by the “Gau Rakshaks” or vigilantes, Indian Muslims cannot be mute witness of the agony they are being subjected to. Indian Muslims of all schools of thought, irrespective of their differences must unite and join hands with the progressive forces in the country that are struggling to protect and preserve the freedom of expression, social harmony democracy, secular and cultural values of India. We cannot allow the religious extremists of the BJP to destroy the cultural fabric of India otherwise we shall be remorselessly crushed. Our destiny is inevitably linked with the progressive forces in India. We must lend full support to movements such as “Not in My Name” which are launched to preserve, protect and resist the divisive forces in our country that will destroy the cultural diversity, secular values and social harmony of India. The choice before the Muslims in India is obvious and there is no alternative.

Hyderabad- based Prof. Shah Manzoor Alam is a former Vice Chancellor, University of Kashmir. He may be reached at

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