Assam’s 2021 cattle law hit supply in beef-eating Northeast. Now, BJP govt has found a fix

When Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s BJP government enacted the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 2021, in August, not only did it all but ban beef in the state but also ended up throttling the supply of the popular meat to its neighbours such as Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh.

While Assam’s move was in keeping with the BJP’s pet political project of cow protection and opposition to beef consumption, it sent prices of the meat soaring in the neighbouring tribal states and threatened to damage the BJP’s larger project of growing roots across the northeast and becoming a serious political contender.

Now, in a clear bid to fix the collateral damage, the Assam government is drafting new rules to facilitate cattle transport to other states through a new system of permits under the purview of this six-month-old law. The new rules are expected to come into force soon.

Under the fresh regulations, private suppliers transporting cattle to the neighbouring states will have to register with the Assam government’s Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department, ThePrint has learnt.

An Assam state government official said that according to the rules being formulated, only government consignments being transported at the behest of any state department would be allowed to pass. “If cattle is being sourced through private agencies, they (the agencies) will have to be registered in Assam,” the official, who didn’t wish to be named, said.

The Assam Cattle Preservation Act
The Assam Cattle Preservation Act stipulated that cattle can be transported from one district to another and outside Assam only when proper documentation is available. In December last year, the state further amended the Act and made it more stringent.

According to Rule 7 of the Act, “no person shall transport or offer for transport or cause to be transported any cattle, without valid permit from… any place of other state through Assam to any place outside state of Assam” and “any place within the state of Assam to any place outside the state of Assam where slaughter of cattle is not regulated by law”.

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