MAHARASHTRA: The Indian state of Maharashtra has banned the possession and sale of beef, according to Indian media reports.
Now anyone found in the process of selling or consuming beef can be sentenced to jail for five years and fined Rs10,000.
The Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill was initially passed by the Maharashtra Assembly during the Shiv-Sena rule in 1995 but did not receive assent from Indian President Pranab Mukherjee until today.
Slaughtering of cows was forbidden under the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act of 1976, but with the implementation of the 1995 bill, the slaughtering of bulls and bullocks is prohibited as well.
Right-wing groups and Jain organisations of India have been rooting for the end of beef trade in Maharashtra.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted on his official Twitter account: "Thanks a lot Hon President Sir for the assent on Maharashtra Animal Preservation Bill. Our dream of ban on cow slaughter becomes a reality now."
The new Act will still allow water buffaloes to be slaughtered which provides inferior quality carabeef that makes up only 25 per cent of the total beef market in the state.
Mohammed Qureshi, the president of the Mumbai Suburban Beef Dealer Association said that: “apart from rendering people jobless, the immediate effect will be the spiraling price of other meats as people will be forced to gravitate to them.”
Beef traders are trying to find a legal way around this ban as this will not only impact their income, but also that of farmers.
In February, beef traders went on a strike to protest the harassment against them. The strike was, however, called off after Fandvais met with a delegation and assured protection to the traders.
Cow is a a sacred animal for the majority Hindu population in India which is a stronghold of vegetarianism.