India treats its cows worse than countries that consume beef, former Goa chief minister Pratapsingh Rane said in the state legislative assembly on Wednesday.
“We may love cows, but it is still the worst-treated animal in India. Countries that consume beef look after their cattle in a much better way.”
“Our cows are just cast off, forced to eat garbage and plastic and fall victim to road accidents,” the Congress legislator said, suggesting that farmers be given the option of profiting from unsustainable cattle.
Rane received support on the issue from unexpected quarters. BJP legislator Michael Lobo, who represents Goa’s Calangute constituency, questioned his government over its failure to protect the legal beef trade.
“Some so-called cow protectors are standing at the border (of Karnataka) and blocking the beef being brought into the state. Some of them even throw phenyl on the beef,” he said.
Goa relies on neighbouring Karnataka for the bulk of its beef supply despite having a certified government-run slaughterhouse, the Goa Meat Complex, which is lying idle.
“The Goa Meat Complex has been shut. There are many meat eaters in Goa. Many tourists come to Goa to eat beef.”
“There is a shortage of beef during our feasts. Why is the Goa Meat Complex not functioning?”
“If we do not want beef to come from Karnataka and Maharashtra, then certified cattle in Goa should be slaughtered at the complex. It has to start,” Lobo said. “There are many people in Goa who eat beef. You cannot stop that.”
Rane said cows were being mistreated because farmers lack the means to dispose of unsustainable cattle.
“What do you do once a cow becomes barren? Do you leave her on the road? This is what many farmers are doing, and they (the cattle) are then run over by vehicles,” he added.
Beef traders had protested harassment by cow-vigilante groups in January, following which chief minister Manohar Parrikar directed the police to crack down on such elements.
Around 20 tonnes of beef is consumed in Goa every day. It is mostly eaten by its 26% Catholic and 11% Muslim populations, apart from tourists.