The Union Home Ministry has asked all states and union territories to act tough against those who take law into their own hands in the garb of protecting cows.
The advisory, first of its kind, sent by the Home Ministry’s Centre-state division on Tuesday makes it clear that in the name of protecting cows, no individual or group will be allowed to take action on their own to prevent the alleged slaughter of cows or punish the alleged wrong doers.
The advisory, titled 'Advisory on untoward incidents in the country on cattle in the disturbance of law and order by miscreants in the name of protection of cow' comes two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned people against anti-social elements who are causing division in the society in the name of protecting cows.
The advisory has invoked Mahatma Gandhi to underline the importance of cow protection. Quoting Gandhi, the advisory said, “Cow protection to me is not mere protection of cow, it means protection of that (which) lives, is helpless and weak in the world.”
"Recently, some incidents have been reported where certain persons or groups have taken law into their hands in the name of protecting cows and have committed crimes in pursuance thereof. This is not an acceptable situation. The states are, therefore, enjoined upon, and expected to ensure that any person who takes law into his/her own hands is dealt with prompt, and punished as per law. There should be no tolerance at all for such persons and full majesty of law must come to bear on them, without exception,"said the advisory .
The Modi government has been facing sharp criticism in the wake of cow vigilante groups becoming active in the country. In September 2015, an irate mob in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri had killed a person, Akhlaq Saifi, following rumours that he and his family had killed a cow and consumed the meat. There have been several incidents of cow vigilante groups beating alleged cow smugglers.
The advisory quotes the Directive Principles of State Policy which assures preservation of cows. "The State shall endeavor to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle."
It further stated: "Entry 15 of the State list of the 7th Schedule allocates the work of 'Preservation, protection and improvement of stock and prevention of animal diseases, veterinary training and practice' to the states.”
Consequently, laws pertaining to cow preservation or prohibition of slaughter vary from state to state, says the MHA.
"In States where slaughter of cows is prohibited by law, such slaughtering would be in violation of law, and an offence. However, that does not entitle any individual or group of persons to take action on their own to prevent the alleged slaughter or punish the alleged wrong doers," it said.
The advisory has been marked to principal secretaries and DGPs of all states and union territories.