Assam govt proposes to amend cattle preservation law

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The Assam government on Monday moved a Bill in the Assembly seeking to amend the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 2021 to allow inter-district transportation of cattle for agricultural and animal husbandry purposes, except in eight districts bordering Bangladesh and Bhutan.

The Assam Cattle Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was tabled in the House on the first day of the five-day Winter Session of the Assembly by Industry and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary.

The BJP government had enacted the law to preserve and prevent illegal trade of cattle by passing the original Bill on August 31, triggering a controversy in the state.

The Act regulated slaughter, consumption and transportation of cattle in the state.

The proposed amendment also seeks to “ensure strict implementation of the penal provisions of the Act” and streamline the investigation procedure.

The amendment has the provision that with the permission of the court, auction would be conducted for the seized vehicles, boats, vessels etc. which are found to be carrying the cattle.

The Act aims to curb smuggling of cattle to neighbouring Bangladesh, besides preventing illegal slaughtering. It also prohibits cow slaughter within a 5 km radius of temples or ‘satras’ (religious place).

Violation of the provisions of the new law entails imprisonment of up to eight years and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had earlier said that the proposed legislation would prevent smuggling and illegal trade of cattle.

The leaders of the Congress, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and the CPI-M have separately said that the BJP government brought the cattle Bill without any discussion with the opposition parties. They also asaid that the ruling party brought the Bill without studying the issue properly.

Smuggling of cows and other cattle to Bangladesh is rampant in the five states of West Bengal, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Assam, which share 4,096 km borders with the neighbouring country.

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