Chennai/New Delhi/Panipat: The decision to ban the sale of beef in Maharashtra has evoked mixed reactions from various quarters. While some called it an attempt to appease right-wing outfits, others called for a nation-wide ban on red meat.
President Pranab Mukherjee last week gave his assent to the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Bill, which had been pending for 20 years, extending a ban on the killing of cows, considered sacred by Hindus, to bulls and bullocks.
The law calls for handing down five-year jail terms and a fine of Rs 10,000 to anyone found in possession of beef, according to media reports.
The Maharashtra Government has said it could take a week to implement the law, prompting the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to approach the Bombay High Court with a plea to impose an immediate ban.
"Definitely not welcome. It is unnecessary and uncalled for. This is just to appease the right wing activists that have come up. I think people should have their right to eat whatever they want and in a country where most of the cattle are also going and are also starving like many other people, I don't find, why it can't be slaughtered and eaten," said advocate, Sudha Ramalingam.
The VHP, a nationalist right-wing group forcefully shut down abattoirs in Maharashtra after winning a court order to stop the killing of bulls and bullocks.
"Our dream of ban on cow slaughter becomes a reality now," Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati supported the ban.
"I think the Maharashtra state government has taken the right decision, in fact all the state governments should give it a thought now because slaughtering cows is not right not only in Maharashtra but across the country. I think they have taken the right decision. They won't be having any problem if other governments also take such decisions," said Mayawati.
Mayawati's views were seconded by Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav.
"The slaughtering of cows is already banned in our country, now if a government bans the selling of beef, is it wrong," asked Yadav.
Killing cows, revered by the majority Hindu population, is legal in just two of India's 29 states, though reports of illegal slaughter surface regularly.
Groups close to the BJP oppose the beef industry. Attacks on the trade, run mostly by Muslims, have intensified in Maharashtra since Prime MInister Modi formed his NDA Government in May last year.