India’s western state of Maharashtra, which covers the financial capital Mumbai, has imposed a tough ban on beef.
It carries a fine and prison term of up to five years for those found engaged in the sale or consumption of the meat, or even merely possessing it.
The prohibition, backed by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party-led administration, is one of the toughest attempts yet to prevent beef-eating in India, where many members of the Hindu majority consider cows as sacred, the Financial Times reported.
Indian President Pranab Mukherjee approved the legislation on Monday, two decades after it was passed by Maharashtra’s state legislature.
Hindu nationalist groups have rejoiced at the ban, but critics said the restrictions would prevent others who do not have a taboo around eating beef, including the country’s Muslim and Christian minorities as well as some low-caste Hindus, from accessing an important and affordable source of protein, according to the newspaper.
“It’s discriminatory,” Samar Halarnkar, a well-known journalist and food writer, was quoted as saying. “It’s a basic freedom that I should be allowed to eat what I want as long as I don’t force it on anyone else’s plate.”
Halarnkar said the ban on beef could put fuel a surge in the prices of other kinds of meat such as chicken and mutton, making them unaffordable to the poor.
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