The controversial Assam Cattle Preservation Bill, 2021, was passed in the state Assembly amid chaos, with opposition members staging a walkout as their demand to send a draft to a selected committee wasn't considered.
The new legislation will revoke the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950 and aims to target slaughter, consumption, illegal transportation of cattle
The Modified Assam Cattle Preservation Bill
The bill prohibits the sale and purchase of beef in areas where non-beef-eating communities reside and within reach of 5 km of a satra (Vaishnavite monastery) or a temple.
The bill says that the slaughtering of cows will only be done with government permission and only in licensed slaughterhouses. Cows younger than the age of 14 years and calves won't be slaughtered.
The bill also prohibits the transportation of animals within and outside the state without government permission and valid documents. This provision was included as allegedly cattle were being smuggled to Bangladesh, which shares a 263-kilometer-long border with Assam.
Punishment For Violating The Bill
Neglecting any bill clause would be a non-bailable offense, leading to jail terms between three and eight years or a fine that may vary between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 5 lakh or both. Under the new law, the punishment will be doubled if someone is found guilty of the same or associated offense.
Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, while introducing the bill, said it would help build communal harmony. He stated that there had been several incidents of violence between communities In lower Assam and Barak Valley due to cow slaughter and beef being found in temples. The bill has no ill intentions, according to him.
Clauses of Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950
The older act's Section 5 permits slaughter on the issuance of certificates by veterinarians if the bovines were over 14 years of age or have become permanently incapacitated for work or breeding. Section 6 says bovines can be slaughtered only in places specified by authorities, whereas Section 13 forgoes this rule during Eid.
The opposition suggested 75 changes to the proposed bill, demanding that it be handed over to a select committee of the House.