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30 May 2017

Slaughter of rights: Mamata - Bengal govt will not accept central rules on livestock markets: CM

Protesters in Chennai shout slogans on Monday against the ban on the sale of cattle in livestock  markets for slaughter. (AFP)
TT, Calcutta, May 29: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee today declared that the Bengal government would not implement the central notification that bans the sale of cattle in animal markets for slaughter.
"We are not accepting (the notification), nor are we bound by these rules," Mamata said in her first reaction in public to the notification.
"This is absolutely unconstitutional and a direct encroachment on federalism.... This is a destructive approach and unnecessary bulldozing," Mamata told a media conference, adding that the government was consulting legal experts.
The chief minister ridiculed attempts to dictate food habits. "Now, I too can say, 'Plants also have life... a potato, wax gourd, gourd and even paddy has life'," she said.
Mamata at the media conference. (Pradip Sanyal)
Bengal has hundreds of licensed animal markets across the state, where cattle worth hundreds of crores are bought and sold every week. The leather industry, already reeling under the impact of cow vigilantism, too is expected to be affected. If the notification is implemented in the state, the economic impact is bound to be significant.
Mamata flagged both concerns at the media conference, adding that the notification -published just before the beginning of the holy month of Ramazan - was a "political" move.
She repeatedly stressed her responsibility to protect "all sections of society" and honour the "food habits of everyone".
"Where the markets will come up, who will eat what, will they decide everything? Farmers travelling somewhere with cows are attacked - we are receiving such reports from UP and also MP," the chief minister said.
Mamata also targeted the notification on the constitutional front. "According to Article 246 of the Constitution, the legislature of any state has exclusive power to make laws with respect to any of the matters enumerated in the Seventh Schedule. The law is clear. Even then, the decision is being forced down our throats," Mamata said.
Reeling off specific entries - "Entry 15, Entry 16, Entry 26 and Entry 28" - from the state list of the Seventh Schedule, Mamata said the new rules were a "deliberate attempt to encroach on state power".
The entries relate to preservation, protection and improvement of cattle stock, prevention of animal disease, trade and commerce, and markets and fairs. Legal consultations are being held to establish whether trade and commerce in cattle is a state subject.
Government sources said that although the chief minister was livid with the notification, she wanted to do her homework before giving her official reaction.
Asked whether she would try to bring other state governments on board against the notification, Mamata said: "I think all the secular parties are united on this."
The CPM-led Left government in Kerala has already opposed the notification and chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has sent a letter to the Prime Minister. Sources in the Bengal government said that Mamata had no such plans for now.
"A legal challenge based on constitutional provisions seems to be the strategy. The chief minister will not let go of this opportunity to attack the Modi government," said a source.
Reacting to the media conference, Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said: "I am surprised that the CM took two days to react.... Usually she reacts within half an hour. She has been very careful while commenting, keeping in mind that 20 lakh people in Bengal were on the streets on Ram Navami."

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