India orders SSB to stop cattle smuggling to Nepal

The ministry of home affairs has ordered the paramilitary Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) to ensure that cattle are not taken illegally across the border into Nepal for sacrifice during the Gadhimai festival.

New Delhi: The ministry of home affairs has ordered the paramilitary Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) to ensure that cattle are not taken illegally across the border into Nepal for sacrifice during the Gadhimai festival.

"The MHA has desired that the movement of cattle for sacrifice during Gadhimai festival to be held Nov 28-29 be stopped. Approximately four lakh cattle, particularly buffaloes, are expected to be attempted to be smuggled to Nepal for sacrifice," the home ministry said in its letter addressed to the Sashastra Seema Bal.

The Gadhimai Festival is held every five years in the Bara district of Nepal, south of Kathmandu. Over two days, more than 500,000 animals, including buffaloes, cows, goats, pigs, hens and fowl, pigeons, ducks and rats are slaughtered to appease Goddess Gadhimai.

An estimated 70 percent of the animals sacrificed at this event are illegally brought from bordering Indian states of Bihar, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and from some parts of Assam, Sikkim and Jharkhand.

The order from the government follows an interim order from the Supreme Court Oct 17, directing the government to prevent the illegal movement of animals across the border from India to Nepal.

In the letter, the home ministry has asked the officials to work out "modalities to impose Section 144 under CrPc, restricting the movement of animals across the border".

The letter also mentions that the cattle seized "may be handed over the animal pounds with the instruction that no auction of cattle by the civil administration be taken till the conclusion of the Gadhimai Mela".

The Supreme Court has also already ordered petitioners and respondents to meet Nov 14 to discuss a plan of action to prevent the smuggling of animals into Nepal.

Humane Society International (HSI), an animal rights organisation, will also join that meeting.

"We are delighted to have the government of India's support and look forward to working with them in implementing in orders," said N.G. Jayasimha, managing director, HSI/India.

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