Cattle Sale Restriction: A Death Blow To India’s Farmers And Federalism


On the third anniversary of Narendra Modi government, the government of India dealt a death blow to Indian farmers and its federal structure by bringing severe restrictions on cattle trade, virtually enforcing a cow slaughter ban across India. The new rule was issued by the ministry of environment.

The environment ministry’s eight-page rule also bans setting of animal markets within 50 km of an international border and 25 km of a state border. Taking animal outside the state will require special approval of the state government nominee.

Although animal husbandry comes under state subject in India’s federal structure, the Modi government has used Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act of 1960 that gives the Centre powers over animal welfare.

Well known ecologist S. Faizi wrote in Facebook “the centre cannot create any law or issue orders about a subject that is in the State list, in the division of legislative powers between the centre and states. Livestock is a state subject. In the State List under Schedule VII: Paras 15 and 16 cover livestock. ”

Here are some of the the Orwellian terms of the Notification:

Restrictions on sale of cattle.— The Member Secretary of the Animal Market Committee shall ensure that-

(a) no person shall bring to an animal market a young animal;

(b) no person shall bring a cattle to an animal market unless upon arrival he has furnished a written declaration signed by the owner of the cattle or his duly authorised agent

(i) stating the name and address of the owner of the cattle, with a copy of the photo identification proof ;

(ii) giving details of the identification of the cattle;

(iii) stating that the cattle has not been brought to market for sale for slaughter;

(c) every declaration furnished to the Animal Market Committee shall be retained by it for a period of six months from the date on which it is furnished to them and the Animal Market Committee shall, on demand made by an Inspector at any reasonable time during that period, produce such declaration and allow a copy of it or an extract from it to be taken;

(d) where an animal has been sold and before its removal from the animal market, the Animal Market Committee shall—

II (i) 17

(i) obtain the expenses incurred for each animal, as approved by the District Animal Market Monitoring Committee, so as to provide the basic facilities for animals and people;

(ii) take an undertaking that the animals are bought for agriculture purposes and not for slaughter;

(iii) keep a record of name and address of the purchaser and procure his identity proof;

(iv) verify that the purchaser is an agriculturist by seeing the relevant revenue document;

(v) ensure that the purchaser of the animal gives a declaration that he shall not sell the animal up to six months from the date of purchase and shall abide by the rules relating to transport of animals made under the Act or any other law for the time being in force;

(vi) retain such record for a period of six months from the date of sale;

(vii) produce such record before an Inspector on demand being made by him at any reasonable time during that period and allow a copy of it or an extract from it to be taken;

(e) the purchaser of the cattle shall –

(i) not sell the animal for purpose of slaughter;

(ii) follow the State cattle protection or preservation laws;

(iii) not sacrifice the animal for any religious purpose;

(iv) not sell the cattle to a person outside the State without the permission as per the State cattle protection or preservation laws;

(f) where a cattle has been sold and before its removal from the animal market, the proof of sale shall be issued in five copies, out of which first copy shall be handed over to purchaser, second copy to seller, third copy to tehsil office of the residence of purchaser, fourth copy to the Chief Veterinary Officer in the district of purchaser and last copy to be kept intact in the record by the Animal Market Committee.

As we can see the move introduces lots of paperwork for cow traders who are mostly poor and illiterate.

The annual meat business in India is estimated to be around Rs one trillion with exports worth Rs 263 billion in 2016-17. For large section of the rural population and farmers cattle is a source of income, especially during illness or to buy seeds. With the new government order it will be very difficult for farmers to sell their cattle. This will ultimately destroy cattle breeding and the whole cattle sector itself.

Political commentator Rathindra Roy wrote, ” if this is implemented it will most probably go down in history not as a blunder, because it is premeditated and planned, but as perhaps the most mindlessly cruel ruling that will destroy large parts of our rural economy and disrupt what little social harmony we have left. Thank you Sangh Parivar… prophesied you have successfully and truly set in motion KaliYug!”

India as envisaged by R.S.S is ‘Hindu-Hindi-Hindusthan’ – a tone deaf mono cultural Hindu autocracy. They have advanced in this project to a great extent particularly in the Hindi heartland. Declaring financial and cultural emergencies, polarising people by spreading fake news and engineering riots, side stepping parliament in ratifying controversial laws and rules without due consultation and persecuting minorities and lower castes have all been perfected to become part of their arsenal. Now they are targeting South India and part of North East which is offering resistance to the ‘Hindutva Project’.

It is at this juncture that the ‘Slaughter Ban’ which is directly impinging upon food rights of citizens and constitutional autonomy of states is becoming a matter of debate. For the multi cultural, multi linguistic societies of South and North East India, this is a matter of very survival. For the political parties ruling these states – this is the last chance to stand up against mono cultural Hindu Rashtra Project.

It is commendable that Mr.Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister of Kerala has called for a meeting of like minded Chief Ministers to discuss ‘Slaughter Ban’. Let it be the start of a wider campaign to achiveve true constitutional autonomy for the states and preserve India as a multi cultural federation. South Indian States and like thinking counterparts like Bengal, Odisha and North Eastern States should come together to achieve this.

Here is a ‘minimum agenda’ for Federal Autonomy that would preserve the idea of India as a federal secular democracy

  1. States should raise demand for items in concurrent list currently to be moved to State List to limit concentration of power at the centre. As a beginning, push for primary and secondary level education, animal protection, animal husbandary and agriculture to be moved completely to State List. Combined and sustained effort by states is needed for the same.

  2. Like in the case of G.S.T – Direct Taxes including personal and corporate income taxes should also be equally shared between states and centre. Total direct tax colection in 2016 stood at 7.48 trillion Rupees. If 50% of this goes to states, loss to states due to G.S.T can be offset and Petroleum cess (standing at 1.99 Trillion Rupees in 2016) that is causing widespread inflation can be abolished. Also any financial assistance to states from centre should be condition free. Press for these demands through G.S.T council and parliament.

  3. ‘Rajyasabha’ should literally become ‘States Council’ as envisaged – a mechanism for giving due consideration to state’s views in central administration. For achieving this – aberrations like nomination of members and provision to elect members who do not belong to respective states should be abolished. ‘Money Bill’ mechanism that do not require passage in ‘Rajya Sabha’ and is being misused today should be abolished. States should demand constitutional amendment for the same.

  4. All official/scheduled languages should be encouraged equally and current status enjoyed by Hindi without constitutional mandate should be abolished.Railway tickets, announcements in Railway Stations and Airports, Banking forms, ATM Services and all other services controlled by central government should be made available in local language. Push for framing rules to recognise all official/scheduled languages equally at the centre.

  5. Colonial remnants like Governership, Indian Civil Services etc. are the tools by which centre is interfering in state administration. These undemocratic institutions that is an impediment to true co-operative federalism should be abolished through constitutional amendment once and for all.

  6. Evolve mechanisms for direct co-operation between states in advancing developmental, educational and ecological agenda

Upper caste Hindus treat the cow as holy and cow slaughter is banned in 24 out of 29 states in India. However, for the 170 million Muslim population of India and the lower castes who form almost 80% of the Hindu population, beef is an affordable protein rich diet. These communities engage in cattle, meat and leather trade. This new rule is a death blow to these communities. In fact, ever since Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, dozens of Muslims and lower caste Hindus were lynched by cow vigilantes called ‘Gau Rakshaks’ affiliated to right wing Sangh Parivar. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to which Prime Minister Narendra Modi belongs is the political arm of the Sangh Parivar. It is to be noted that the new rule comes into effect just before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The Modi government has been engaged in social engineering to divide communties living in social harmony by playing divisive politics. This new rule will embolden the cow vigilantes to take law into their own hands and strike fear in people’s minds. This rule will effectively enforce ‘beef ban’ in the remaining states like Kerala and the North Eastern states.

In November last year Modi government enforced a ban of high denomination notes dubbed as “demonetisation”. It had disastrous effect on the economy as well as causing the death of hundreds of people. This new rule is greater social engineering than demonetization. Pitting one community against another, castes against one another. Human blood will spill across India. Farmers will starve. India has become a cow republic. If we don’t resist it, it will be the end of India as we know it.

Binu Mathew is the editor of He can be reached at [email protected]


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