Hot News

Interview With Dr Fuad Halim

Interview With Dr Fuad Halim

The chorus against the Centre’s latest notification on ban on sale of cattle for slaughter in animal markets is becoming louder by the day. From West Bengal to Kerala, Karnataka and Tripura, protests are being held every day in one or the other part of the country. The Madras High Court gave an interim relief for four weeks while the Kerala High Court found nothing wrong with the centre’s law saying the law did not ban cattle slaughter.

The opposition parties have described the order as anti-people directive stating that it will badly affect the small and marginal farmers, Dalits and Muslims and leather industry in the country. According to the CPI(M), the notification of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change that bans sale of cattle for slaughter is an atrocious attempt by the Modi government to give legal cover for its wholly communal and divisive agenda to impose a diet code on the country.

Anju Grover for Indian Currents spoke to CPI(M) leader from West Bengal, Dr Fuad Halim on the Cental government’s notification on the sale of cattle.

  IC: The Madras High Court has put a stay on the centre’s cattle order on the ground that there are no guidelines before making rules for carrying out the purposes of the cruelty Act. Your comments.

Dr Fuad Halim : The High Court has rightly asked the centre to explain its back up plan before implementing the rules. But my primary concern is that notification should have some basis.  Article 48 of the Indian Constitution under the Directive Principle of State Policy (DPSP) clearly mentions that the scientific attitude towards agriculture and animal husbandry should be maintained and in view of that, slaughtering and cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle is not permissible. So the said notification has to be supported by the facts. As far as Indian cows are concerned, these cows are the most stressed out because of mechanization of farming and preference of buffalo milk over cow milk. The ban on cow slaughtering is already being implemented in states like Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh as cow population in the overall cattle population has gone down by 40-50 per cent.

In states like Kerala, West Bengal and north eastern states, cow population is quite high in the sense that more than 80 per cent of the cattle population is cow population. In India, the relationship of Indian farmers with cows is over 10,000 years old where farmers keep cows for economic reasons.

IC: It means that the new rules are a burdensome interference in the freedom of trade and business guaranteed under the constitution, besides increasing a stress on the cows…

The Indian cows survive in the homes of farmers especially small and marginal farmers. The farmers with large holding of lands have stopped using cows and are using trackers and machines. If marginal farmers, who use cows as economic capital, are told not to get away with useless cows, it will add burden on them. So, the notification should have come in line with the spirit of article 48 of the Indian Constitution. The notification was released purely on the basis of religious sentiments. The notification is politically motivated and it goes against the interest of Indian cows. However, protests against the centre’s notification are secular in character as members of all communities including Hindus are participating.

IC: How would you justify the act of protestors at IIT Madras openly eating beef… it is a fight between cow vigilantes and beef eaters.

That is one part of it. The latest order will destroy the livelihood of crores of farmers involved in animal husbandry, eliminate traditional cattle fairs, and put an unfair burden on farmers to care for useless cattle. This further burdens the farmers who are increasingly resorting to distress suicides due to escalating input costs.   It will also impact on the leather industry and the meat export industry affecting the livelihood of lakhs of people. So this order will badly affect the economy of our country.

IC: Kerala and West Bengal governments have opposed the new central law on cattle trade and slaughter as an infringement on the rights of the state government. Tripura said it will not implement the centre’s ban on sale of cattle for slaughter through animal markets in the wake of outrage against the new rules that impact the livelihood of poor Dalits and Muslims. Karnataka said no to cattle trade curb. Kerala Chief Minister has asked chief ministers of other states to raise their voices against restrictions imposed on cattle trade saying it was anti-democratic in nature. Your comments.

Definitely, this notification is infringing upon various provisions of the constitution. It challenges the federal structure of the constitution and the notification is an encroachment on the rights of the states under whose jurisdiction such issues fall.

IC: The central government has been accused of ignoring the Parliament while issuing a notification of such serious nature…your views.

Yes. They should have done a study to know in which states the population of Indian cows is increasing or decreasing. They should have taken a Parliamentary route and prepared a white paper on it. They did it on the basis of religious sentiments.

IC: What is your reaction to the killing of innocent calves by youth Congress leaders in Kerala? Is it not crude way of protest?

It was the most unfortunate incident that happened in Kerala. There are certain guidelines for slaughtering an animal. We do not approve of such incidents.

IC: With this notification, the spotlight has once again come on right to eat food of one’s own choice and right to eat beef. Your views.

Beef is a source of protein for poor people.  It is for them to decide what and when to eat.

IC: What, according to you, is the motive behind issuing such a notification?

It is overall failure in delivering the basic things that this government is expected to deliver in areas like jobs, education and improving the health of Indian economy. The GDP growth has been quite slow. However, this government has been trying to divert the attention of people from such issues by raising non issues like cow slaughtering etc.

IC: Voices of anti-cow slaughter legislation are growing in the country. Do you support such demands?

A: We are in favour of any legislation which ensures that the livelihood of lakhs of small and marginal farmers, Dalits and Muslims is protected. I think people’s court is the most important court. Protests are being organised all across South India. We are leading the protests in several places.

#(Published on 05th June 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 23)