Uttar Pradesh’s Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act which prohibits the slaughter of cows and their progeny in the state, with punishment of up to ten years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh, is being misused “against innocent persons”. The Allahabad High court expressed concern around the matter, questioned the credibility of the evidences submitted by the police in such cases and has ordered to take measures to protect abandoned cattle. “Whenever any meat is recovered, it is normally shown as cow meat (beef) without getting it examined or analysed by the Forensic Laboratory,” said Justice Siddharth.
“…in most of the cases, meat is not sent for analysis. Accused persons continue in jail for an offence that may not have been committed at all and which is triable by Magistrate 1st Class, having maximum sentence up to 7 years…Whenever cows are shown to be recovered, no proper recovery memo is prepared and one does not know where cows go after recovery,” the order stated.
Rahmuddin, arrested under the Act by police in Shamli and jailed on August 5, was granted bail on October 19.
According to the Uttar Pradesh government data, more than half (76) of the 139 arrests recorded in the state under the stringent National Security Act (NSA) this year, till August 19, were on charges of cow slaughter. Keeping aside NSA charges, 1,716 cases were registered this year, till August 26, under the UP Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act and over 4,000 people arrested. It also shows that the closure reports were filed in 32 cases, after the police being unable to gather evidence against the accused.
“Goshalas do not accept the non-milching cows or old cows and they are left to wander on the roads. Similarly, owner of the cows after milking leave the cows to roam on roads, to drink drainage/sewer water and eat garbage, polythene, etc. Moreover, cows and cattle on the road are menace to the traffic and a number of deaths have been reported due to them,” the order stated.
“In the rural areas, cattle owners, who are unable to feed their live-stock, abandon them. They cannot be transported outside the state for fear of locals and police. There are no pastures now. Thus, these animals wander here and there destroying the crops. Earlier, farmers were afraid of Neelgai… now they have to save their crops from stray cows,” the order stated.
“Whether cows are on roads or on fields, their abandonment adversely affects the society in a big way. Some way out has to be found out to keep them either in cow shelters or with owners, if the UP Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act is to be implemented in letter and spirit,” it stated.