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A nationwide cow slaughter ban would have effectively banned beef consumption in India. Photo: Bloomberg
A nationwide cow slaughter ban would have effectively banned beef consumption in India. Photo: Bloomberg

Cow slaughter: Supreme Court rejects plea seeking nationwide ban

Supreme Court says will not interfere in state laws regarding cow slaughter and consumption of beef

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a petition seeking a nationwide ban on cow slaughter. The apex court dismissed an activist’s proposal to prohibit the slaughter of cows across India, a measure that would have effectively banned beef consumption in the nation of 1.25 billion.

Cows are revered in the Hindu scriptures as the ‘mother’ of civilization and many worshippers equate the slaughter of cows or eating beef as blasphemy.

But millions from India’s huge minority populations—including Muslims, Christians and lower-caste Hindus—eat beef, which isn’t widely available and is banned altogether in some states.

Just eight of India’s 29 states permit the consumption of beef or the slaughter of cows.

“One state may ban slaughter, the other may not," the court said in rejecting the petition. “We will not interfere in state laws."

Several radical religious groups, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have long campaigned to implement a nationwide ban on cow slaughter.

The BJP won national elections in 2014 with a thumping majority, pledging in part to ban cow slaughter. But so far the government in Delhi has failed to convince the states to pass such sweeping measures.

Some BJP-ruled states have in recent years pushed through tougher penalties including 10-year jail terms for those convicted of cow slaughter or possession or consumption of beef.

Simmering tensions over the issue have spilled into violence since the BJP’s national ascent to power, with a string of attacks on minorities by right-wing Hindu vigilantes resulting in the deaths of at least 10 people.

In 2014, a 50-year-old Muslim man accused of slaughtering a cow and consuming its meat was murdered by a mob at his home near New Delhi.

The lynching prompted international outrage and accusations of a rise in religious vigilantism under the Modi administration.

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