BJP’s firebrand leader and Chief Minister of Assam Himanta Biswa Sarma is on a crusade to weed out cattle smugglers from the state. After bringing the revolutionary Assam Cattle Preservation Bill (2021) earlier this year, the Assam government has passed an amendment to it. Under the amended act, the state police can enter the house of an accused to inspect, search and seize properties acquired in the last six years, if the funds were earned from illegal cattle trade.
Putting the onus on the accused to prove his/her innocence, the amendment states, “Provided that the burden of proving that the property so attached or seized has not been illegally acquired through sale or transportation of cattle in violation of any of the provision under this Act, shall be on the person affected,”
The opposition protested against the entirety of the bill, but Sarma and his government stood tall and passed it. Sarma remarked that he wants to convey the message that Assam is a “tough state” while dealing with unlawful cattle trade.
No cattle slaughter or sale of beef allowed in a 5km radius of religious institutions
The bill brought in by Himanta’s government earlier this year was passed in the assembly in August. As reported by TFI, the 2021 version is the much ruthless and efficient version of the Assam Cattle Preservation Act 1950, which failed to ensure these regulations, as it did not have legal provisions to do so.
Under the new act, no slaughter, sale or purchase of beef can take place in a radius of 5 kilometres from Hindu or Jain temples, Sikh Gurudwaras, satra (Vaishnavite monasteries), or or any other institution, as maybe prescribed by authorities.
Himanta has been severe on cattle smugglers
There exist many points along the porous India-Bangladesh border that enables illegal cattle smuggling. The smuggling occurs through the border from Dhubri district, which is considered to be one of the largest cattle markets linking Bangladesh. A few years back, The BSF had identified 65 cattle corridors along the border.
The BSF had seized 476,035 heads of cattle between 2016 and 2020 along the Indo-Bangla border, according to the Union Government. Meanwhile, between December 1, 2019, and November 30, 2020, a total of 24,060 cows were also seized from the Assam-Bangladesh border.
However, ever since the BJP came to power for the second consecutive time in the state, the newly crowned Chief Minister in Himanta Biswa Sarma has been gravely concerned about the demographic changes in the state thanks to cattle smugglers, as well as illegal refugees.
For some, the mention of cows is forbidden, but for us, cows are mothers: PM Modi
Himanta’s government amending the law comes on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi once again talking about cows and their importance in the Sanatan culture.
During his trip to Kashi, PM Modi was quoted as saying, “In our society, some people have created such an atmosphere that talking about cow or ‘gobardhan’ appears like a virtual crime. The cow can be a sin for some people. For us, it is our mother and revered.”
Highlighting the economic importance of cows, PM Modi also added, “Those making fun of cows and buffaloes forget that eight crores (80 million) people in the country earn their livelihood through pashudhan (livestock). It is due to these families’ hard work that India produces milk worth Rs 8.5 lakh crore,”
The combination of PM Modi at the centre and CM Himanta in the state can ensure that the cattle smuggling problem is solved in Assam. Both leaders are complementing each other’s working style and thus, one can see the sync in remarks.