Richo objects to Assam govt’s bill to ban cattle transportation

ITANAGAR, Jul 13: Senior Congress leader and general secretary of the North East Congress Coordination Committee, Padi Richo has reacted strongly to a bill tabled by the BJP government headed by Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in the Assam assembly on Monday, seeking a ban on cow slaughter in Hindu-, Jain- and Sikh-dominated areas, and a ban on transportation of cattle in the state.

In a statement he issued on Tuesday evening, Richo said that, once the law is enacted, it would go against many NE states where large numbers of people earn their livelihood by selling cattle.

The traders bring cattle from other parts of the country though Assam, and such a ban would snatch away their livelihood, Richo said.

“If it is cattle today, tomorrow who knows, the Assam government could restrict movement of agricultural products, including vegetables and rice, and in such case many states would suffer. Arunachal Pradesh is still a consumer state which depends mostly on Assam for all supplies,” he said.

Defining ‘cattle’ as bulls, bullocks, cows, heifers, calves, male and female buffaloes and buffalo calves, the bill envisions that “Anybody found guilty of violating the law shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three years or fine that may vary between Rs 3 lakhs and Rs 5 lakhs, or both. If someone convicted under the new law is found guilty of the same or a related offence the second time, the punishment will be doubled.”

Reminding that the BJP formed the North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) in May 2016 to protect the interests of the NE people, and that Sarma was appointed its convener, Richo said “such a bill goes against the indigenous people of the NE region, particularly of Arunachal Pradesh.”

“When cattle (cows, buffaloes, mithuns and goats) are traditionally linked to rituals and festivals of over 100-odd tribes and sub-tribes of Arunachal, will such a law not amount to disintegrating the NE instead of integrating the mantra of the NEDA?” questioned Richo.

“India is a sovereign, democratic republic whose constitution gives equal rights to all its citizens without any distinction, irrespective of caste, creed and religion. But when the bill is aimed at pleasing people belonging to a particular religion, the law, once enacted, would hurt the sentiment of those who consume cattle meat,” Richo added.

He expressed hope that good sense would prevail in the BJP government and it would not enact “such anti-people law that threatens the family trade and survival of all stakeholders.”