Patna: A ruling party minister from Bihar has stirred controversy after seeking a blanket ban on the slaughter of cows in the state.
Tej Pratap Yadav, who holds health and environment portfolios in the ruling Nitish Kumar government, is also the son of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi should also ban cow slaughter the way he firmly imposed currency ban in India,” Yadav told journalists in Vrinadavan, a religious town dedicated to the deity Krishna.
Vrindavan is a town in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh, where Krishna is believed to have spent his childhood days in Vrindavan, according to Hindu mythology.
Yadav, who is an ardent follower of Krishna, is currently on pilgrimage of the town along with a group of friends.
Voicing serious concern, Yadav said the slaughter of cows has been going on unabated despite laws against the practice.
He promised the Bihar government would very soon effectively implement the ban on cow slaughter, describing himself as the “descendant of Lord Krishna”.
Krishna, a mythological character, is known for his love for cows.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was quick to take up the issue and welcomed the call by the Bihar minister.
“The BJP welcomes the move by the minister and will support any initiative by the RJD aimed at protecting cows,” senior BJP leader and former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi told journalists on Monday.
He said although the cow slaughter remains officially banned in Bihar, it goes unabated owing to flaws in existing laws.
“The Bihar Preservation and Improvement of Animals Act, 1955 provides for only six month jail term or a fine of Rs1,000 [Dh54] on violation of the act resulting in its failure while the punishment is harsh for violators in many BJP-ruled states,” Modi added.
Ironically the RJD, led by Yadav’s father, has been totally against cow slaughter laws. In July this year, party president Prasad even shot off an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, blaming him for violence in various states in the name of cow protection.
“It was because of the hate speeches made during the Lok Sabha polls, and later during the Bihar assembly elections, relating to the ‘pink revolution’ of beef and cow protection, that farmers now fear purchasing cows,” Prasad had said in his letter alleging the “seeds of casteism and communalism that were sowed by Modi were fanning tension and hatred in the country”.
During the run-up to the state polls in Bihar last year as well, the RJD president had supported the consumption of beef, saying it was wrong to kill any person over meat. He had been reacting to the lynching of a man at Dadri village in Uttar Pradesh, following rumours that he and his family had consumed beef.
“Poor people eat meat to beat their hunger … Those who go outside (the country) eat beef. Even Hindus eat beef. There is no difference between beef and goat meat … A Muslim was falsely accused in Dadri,” Prasad was quoted as saying in the media at that time.