In a first, MP government to introduce law against cow vigilantism

In a much needed step towards curbing cow vigilantism, Kamal Nath-led Congress government of Madhya Pradesh is all set to introduce an amendment to its anti-cow slaughter law, owing to the rising cases of cow vigilantism and the self appointed ‘gau rakshaks’ taking law in their own hands.

cow vigilantism

As reported in the Indian Express, Congress-ruled Madhya Pradesh is likely to become the first state to introduce a law against cow vigilantism. With the MP Cabinet clearing the amendment to its Madhya Pradesh Gauvansh Vadh Pratishedh Adhiniyam, 2004, the bill is all set to be introduced in the Legislative Assembly in its monsoon session. The amendment, if passed, will bring the cow vigilantes under the scanner and those found guilty of violence shall be imprisoned for six months to three years, and a fine of Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000. At present, offences related to cow vigilantism are dealt under the Indian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Additional Chief Secretary (Animal Husbandry) Manoj Shrivastava told The Indian Express that punishment under the Anti-Cow Slaughter Act, 2004 will increase to a minimum of one year and a maximum of five years if a mob is involved in cow vigilantism. In case of repeat offenders, the jail term will be doubled. Further, the amendment seeks to punish those who abet cow vigilantism with a jail term of one to three years. People who damage property of those charged under the anti-cow slaughter law will also be punished.

Speaking to the Hindustan Times, Srivastava said, “The amendment has been made keeping in mind the Supreme Court order…telling states to act tough on cow vigilantism.” In July 2018, the Supreme Court had asked Parliament to consider creating a new penal provision to deal with incidents of vigilantism, saying “mobocracy cannot be allowed in society.” It had also given a list of directions, including preventive, remedial and punitive steps, to deal with the crime. However, no state or even the centre till date has paid heed to the SC directive. MP government can be the first to do so.

Once the amendment comes into force, the cattle traders will have to take permission from a sub-divisional magistrate before transporting the cattle. State Animal Husbandry Minister Lakhan Singh Yadav said most cattle transporters do not carry documents to show “whether the cow being transported is going for slaughter or for sale, and often end up being harassed or bashed up by gau rakshaks”. “The magistrate’s permission will be a legal paper that should satisfy the gau rakshaks,” Yadav added.

The move comes in the wake of an incident near Kachhiwara, under Dundaseoni police station in Seoni district, on May 22, when five people thrashed three persons, including a Muslim man and woman, on suspicion of carrying beef. The police had arrested Shubam Baghel, who identified himself as the Seoni district president of Hindutva organisation Shri Ram Sena, and his four accomplices. The victims were also arrested for allegedly carrying beef.

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