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India: Letter to Prime Minister Modi - Withdraw Proposed Prohibition of Beef in Lakshadweep (March 25, 2021)

by Binoy Viswam, 25 March

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Binoy Viswam
Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha)

116, North Avenue New Delhi - 110 001

To
Shri Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Government of India, New Delhi.

Respected Shri Narendra Modi ji,

Date: 25.03.2021

I write this letter urging you to withdraw the proposal of the Ministry of Law and Justice to prohibit the sale, buying, keeping or transporting of beef or its products, in addition, to banning the slaughter of cows, calves, bulls or bullocks in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep as it is a violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution and against the wishes of the people of Lakshadweep.

An individual’s food choices are linked and dictated by the cultural and socio-economic dimensions of communities. Food practices have evolved over generations and are integral to the personal and community identity. The decision of the Government to penalise a communities food choices exceeds the power of the state and goes against the personal liberty of individuals. On an island where 96% of the population is Muslim, proposing such an act is a clear example of targeted vilification of minorities and their culture. Further the act is also an attack on the poor of the island as beef meat is an affordable source of nutrition and staple in their diet. The economic loss caused by such a prohibition is also considerable as a large number of people are employed in thousands of such business across the state. I must also point out that in states where a similar legislation was already passed, farmers and rural populations are facing severe problems due to the large population of cattle that becomes unproductive and difficult to manage. The disruption of the ecosystem in these states has caused immense social and economic difficulties.

While many BJP ruled states have passed similar legislations in states across the country, it is also important to note that leaders of the BJP have opposed a beef ban in areas where it is an integral part of people’s diet and socio-economic culture. The former party president and the current Home Minister of India in 2017 assured the people of Goa that the BJP government would not ban beef in the state. Similarly, the Chief Minister of Manipur in 2017 also stated that beef is an integral part of the states’ diet and the government would not intervene in the food choices of the people. Leaders of your party in Lakshadweep have also spoken out against this proposed legislation.

The proposed legislation is against the interests of the people of Lakshadweep and exceeds the role of the State in the lives of the people. It is both socially and economically harmful while serving a limited political agenda.

I, therefore, urge you to withdraw the proposed legislation immediately and assure the people of Lakshadweep that the administration of the Island will work in the interest of the people and not against it.

Yours sincerely

Binoy Viswam

Leader of CPI Parliamentary Party & Secretary, National Council
Member, Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change Member, Consultative Committee on Environment, Forest and Climate Change