1900 People Sign Up To Become Cow Protectors In Maharashtra To Help Govt. Implement Beef Ban

1900 People Sign Up To Become Cow Protectors In Maharashtra To Help Govt. Implement Beef Ban
Divyakant Solanki, European Press Photo Agency/ NYT

Akhlaqh was murdered on the suspicion of storing beef, women in Maundsar were beaten on the suspicion of carrying beef, Dalits in Una Gujarat were flogged for carrying beef by cow vigilantes and more such incidents of ‘Gau Rakshaks’, ‘Cow Protectors/Vigilantes’ taking the law in their own hands have been consistently making headlines ever since this new government came into power. Although the protection of women and children from sexual abuse and human trafficking remains abysmal, cow vigilantes have a reason to rejoice as they might just be able to met out their version of saffron justice with the law on their side now.
Over 1900 people have applied to be state-sponsored cow vigilantes ever since the Animal Husbandry department has sought applications. The report by Indian Express stated that, ‘The Commissionerate of Animal Husbandry, which is in charge of implementing the ban along with police, has invited applications from organisations in the field of animal welfare to nominate candidates for the new post. An advertisement posted last week on the official website of the commissionerate stated: “This office is taking all-out efforts for proper implementation of the law, but it has been noticed in some parts of the state the ban is not being effectively implemented.’
To appoint ‘special animal welfare officers to help police and the animal husbandry department in implementing the amended Maharashtra Protection of Animals Act ,1995’ according to the current Indian Express report, they have already started recruiting people in various regions. The report also listed these areas and the number of people joining the team. ‘Based on the applications forwarded, the district of Amravati is likely to see the appointment of 435 such officers. Buldhana (280), Solapur (244) and Nanded (195) will in all likelihood be the districts with the next highest number of such appointments in the state,’ the report said. These officers are being recruited to make sure that laws are being implemented by the police and that they being held accountable to act on every complaint.
In a move to curb illegal cow slaughter and implementation of the blanket ban on beef in the state, the officials have opened a can of worms. Reports say that Maharashtra government had in 2015 banned cow slaughter, by amending the Maharashtra Animal Protection Act, 1995. Since then, culling of cow and cow progeny is a criminal offence in the state, punishable by a five-year jail term. It also carries a fine of Rs 10,000 for possession of beef. Although the Bombay HC has allowed the consumption and possession of beef that is procured from outside the state, many vans carrying beef have been torched and drivers beaten up according to reports.
How do they then plan to keep political and religious extremists out of their fold? Catch news reported that the matter is yet to appear before a judge in August.  ‘A member of this committee has reportedly expressed concern over how it will be ensured that such “officers” work within the four walls of law, since “there is so much activism in this field now and, many a times, untoward incidents also happen”. The member has also reportedly revealed that this idea was initiated by former animal husbandry commissioner SS Bhosale, who has since retired. Since there was no consultation within the committee for taking this step, the concerns will now be given a serious consideration. This committee, led by retired judge of the Bombay High Court, CS Dharmadhikari, will meet in August,” the report said.

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Feature Image Courtesy: Divyakant Solanki, European Press Photo Agency/ NYT

Words: Preksha Malu