Guwahati: Amid the ongoing controversy on the Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021, Congress MP from Barpeta Abdul Khaleque on Wednesday said that the proposed legislation will encourage “syndicate raj” and mob lynching incidents in the state.

Addressing a press meet, Khaleque said, “Through the provision on the restriction of transportation of cattle as mentioned in the bill, I believe it will encourage a new permit and syndicate system in the state.”

He said that the restriction on the sale of beef and beef products mentioned in the proposed bill is to fulfil the agenda of BJP and RSS. “It will lead to mob lynching and communal disharmony incidents in the state,” he said. 

He said that it will be a welcome step if the BJP-led government brings down the five-km radius provision to one km. “If they do that, it will not be a bad move as it will project it as a balanced restriction. But the five-km radius restriction looks as if they are taking forward their (BJP) agenda,” he added. 

“If we talk on religious line, even in Islam, pork is forbidden. It will look balanced if the government proposes to ban slaughter of pork 500 metres around mosques and religious places of Islam, especially in towns,” he said.

“We have a wrong notion that if a Muslim doesn’t eat beef, he is violating his religion or he isn’t a Muslim. It is not about that but rather it is about the fundamental right to choose what to eat. The Constitution gives this right and I believe we should respect this.”

“Even though there is a mention of Article 48 of the Indian Constitution in the bill, the transport and slaughter part of the bill will violate the fundamental rights to food,” he added. 

The proposed bill says that cows over 14 years of age or those permanently incapacitated will be certified for slaughter and it will require a veterinary officer to issue such a “fit-for-slaughter” certificate. He said, “When the bill will be an act, it means a cow birth register has to be maintained. This will lead to series of corruption by a veterinary officer over the issue of such age certificates for cows.”

Adding on the ongoing massive drive happening in the state to stop the cattle smuggling racket, he said, “It is evident that there is an international cattle smuggling racket ongoing along the Indo-Bangladesh border. I thank the chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for exposing the lapses of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government in protecting our frontiers.” 

The new cattle legislation seeks to ban slaughter in areas predominantly inhabited by Hindu, Jain, Sikh and other non-beef-eating communities or places that fall within a five-kilometre radius of a temple, satras, and any other religious institutions. 

Placing the bill before the Assam assembly on the first day of the Budget session, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the bill will make transportation of cattle illegal outside Assam and within Assam in the absence of proper documentation.

“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 three lakh and Rs five lakh or both. If someone convicted under the law is found guilty of the same the second time, the punishment will be doubled,” the bill said 

The bill expands the definition of the term ‘cattle’ and said that it shall apply to bulls, bullocks, cows, heifer, calves, male and female buffaloes and buffalo calves.

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