PANAJI: Markets across Goa have seen a beef shortage over the past few days with traders citing harassment by cow vigilantes. Traders alleged that recently, a vehicle carrying beef from Belagavi to Goa was forcibly stopped and damaged despite having all permissions, reports the Times of India.
“The vigilantes blocked the vehicle while it was headed for Goa and damaged it,” president All-Goa Qureshi Meat Traders Association, Manna Bepari, told TOI. “We called the police, who, on arriving, verified our documents and let us go.” He said that the state government should take strict action against such harassment.
“We possess all necessary permits, and despite that, our vehicle was stopped and attacked and the driver was threatened,” Bepari said. “We require protection because vigilantes are taking law into their own hands and creating obstacles in our trade. The drivers now fear for their lives,” says the TOI report.
In Goa, there has been no slaughter of bovines since October 2017, and the beef currently on sale in Goa is brought from Belagavi.
Traders said that this vigilantism has caused a beef shortage in Goa over the past five days. Goa usually consumes an average of 20-25 tonnes of beef per day, but owing to the suspension of slaughter, traders have been importing less than 10 tonnes a day. After the recent attack by cow vigilantes, Goa sees only 1-2 tonnes available in the markets.
Reacting to these incidents, an animal husbandry official said, “The traders must post slaughter details that indicates the source of the meat and whether or not it has been slaughtered in a legal slaughterhouse. While transporting the meat, they must abide by certain rules. The police will check these details on the way.”
According to an IndiaScoops.com survey, beef prices have gone up in various parts of Goa and in some parts of the coastal state, it has completely gone off the shelves. Traders claim there is a 70 per cent shortage of beef in the state currently and due to the heavy rains and vigilantism, transporters are unwilling to transport beef from neighboring places.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has claimed time and again that it is capable of imposing a total ban on consumption of beef in Goa in the next couple of years, without the government’s help. A senior VHP functionary Radha Krishna Manori, had claimed the organisation will impose the ban in the state with the help of the Bajrang Dal and the Durga Vahini activists, says an earlier report in The Indian Express.
“Like elsewhere in the country, in Goa, too, we are awakening people against the cow slaughter and eating beef. You will have to wait for another one or two years and our Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini workers will stop cow slaughter in the state,” he told reporters in Vasco town.
Goa’s tryst with gau rakshak—cow-protection—groups began at least half a decade before they became active on the national landscape, claims a report in Caravan Magazine. With Christians comprising 25 percent of the state’s population and Muslims about eight percent, Goa’s food politics have provided adequate opportunity for saffron groups to test their mettle. For instance, at the sixth edition of the All India Hindu Convention that was held in the state in June 2017, the groups present passed resolutions seeking the establishment of a Hindu nation and a nationwide ban on cow slaughter. Sadhvi Saraswati, one of the speakers at the event, likened the consumption of beef to “eating one’s own mother,” and called for public hangings of those who eat beef.
In 1995, the state tightened the regulations on cattle slaughter through the Goa Animal Preservation Act. Under it, all bovine animals—which includes bulls, bullocks, male calves, male and female buffaloes and buffalo calves—could only be slaughtered if they were certified as unlikely to become economical for agricultural, breeding or milking purposes. The act stipulated that the slaughter of bovine animals could only be conducted at a place specified by the government, effectively banning all existing slaughterhouses in markets. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughter House) Rules, which the central government notified in 2001, imposed additional conditions on cow slaughter. These included a ban on slaughter of animals that were either pregnant; or less than three months old; or had an offspring that was less than three months old; or if the animal had not been certified as fit for slaughter by a veterinary doctor.
A former high-ranking official of the state’s animal husbandry department, who requested not to be identified, told Caravan Magazine that the complex charges around Rs 400 for a slaughter. He added that it imposes additional charges for carving and cold storage besides stringent ante and post-mortem checks for cysts, infections and diseases—all of which increased the number of rejected cattle as well as the costs for both meat traders and consumers.
According to the official, private slaughterhouses in the state and the ones in Karnataka did not impose these additional charges. Over the past decade, the animal welfare and cow protection groups have managed to get authorities to implement the laws and shut down all other illegal slaughter venues. The complex became, and continues to be, the sole legal and licensed slaughterhouse in the state.