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Open Letter: Where is Your Spine on the Beef Ban, Kejriwal?

Petitioner Gaurav Jain pens a letter to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal questioning his stand on the beef ban.

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Petitioner Gaurav Jain pens a letter to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal questioning his stand on the beef ban. (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>)
Open Letter: Where is Your Spine on the Beef Ban, Kejriwal?

Dear Arvind,

I am sure you have read the letter by Pinarayi Vijayan, the Chief Minister of Kerala, in which he appealed to all his counterparts to come together and oppose the “anti-federal, anti-democratic, and anti-secular move” of the central government.

He was referring to, of course, the sweeping changes brought by the central government in the rules under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960 – the most prominent one being that now cattle can’t be sold or bought for slaughter via cattle markets.

Mamata Banerjee minced no words either and called these new rules unconstitutional. Chief Minister of Tripura and Chief Minister of Meghalaya also registered their strong protest.

Even allies and leaders within the BJP took a stand. But we did not hear anything from you.

Farmer’s Hero, Where Art Thou?

In December 2015, when the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raided your office, you not only called Narendra Modi a “coward and psychopath”, you also publicly warned him not to scare you with the CBI. Such was your passion and rage, it inspired several spoof videos.

Through these new rules, the Modi government has sneaked into the state’s exclusive domain to make laws on items under List II (State List).

In a figurative sense, your office has been raided once again and you haven’t uttered a single word this time!

At a book launch event last year, you defended your decision, despite LG’s objection, to acquire farmers’ land at Market rate (approx. 6 times the government rate) saying, “kisaanon ke liye ladta hoon main” (I fight for the farmers).

Hundreds and thousands of farmers and dairy farmers in Delhi are going to be impacted by these new rules. Wouldn’t you fight for the farmers this time?

Agreed, slaughtering of cows was already prohibited in Delhi via Delhi Agricultural Cattle Preservation (DACP) Act, 1994. But the definition of ‘cattle’ in the new rules under PCA Act includes buffalos as well. This would have serious repercussions.

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How would Delhi’s daily demand of more than 9,00,000 kg of meat be met with this ban in place? From where would the lone authorised abattoir in Ghazipur and several unauthorised abattoirs across Delhi source animals?

Sure, the power to run slaughter-houses lies with the three municipalities of Delhi. But is that a sufficient reason for you to display such indifference towards such a burning issue?

If that was the case, you wouldn’t have criticised the brutality of ABVP members and Delhi Police on the students of Ramjas College, because neither Delhi University nor Delhi Police is under your control.

Again in the matter of Rohith Vemula’s suicide, you went as far as Hyderabad to show your solidarity and criticised the central government’s role before and after the suicide.

Demonetisation, EVM vulnerability, Sahara-Birla diaries, and so many other incidents; you have taken a stand on whatever name comes to mind. And it’s not that you have always opposed Modi or his government’s policies. For Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, ‘Surgical Strike’, GST bill, etc., you have extended your support.

The bottom line is YOU TOOK A STAND.
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Spineless Display

With this background of such spectacular display of ‘spine’, your spinelessness on the issue of beef ban is disappointing.

Having said that, I am not surprised, for I have witnessed your evasiveness to take a stand on this issue with my own eyes in the Delhi High Court.

Hearing after hearing, lawyers representing your government show up unprepared in the Court and beg for another date with such expressions on their faces as if they have just been caught cheating by the examiner and they can’t do anything except begging for forgiveness.

To give you a brief timeline -

The writ petition against the law which bans possession and consumption of beef in Delhi was filed in the Delhi High Court in May 2016. On the next hearing in July, the Court issued a notice to your government to file its reply.

Your counsel didn’t even bother to appear on the next hearing in September. Nevertheless, the Court directed your government to file its Counter Affidavit within four weeks.

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Nine months have passed since then and the Counter Affidavit is nowhere in sight.

To act on the appeal of the Chief Minister of Kerala is still a matter of choice, but to act on the direction of the Hon’ble High Court is not.

Isn’t your blatant refusal to reply in contempt of court? Are you engaging in one-upmanship with the Modi Government in the domain of contempt of court as well?

You say you are a man of words. So much so that it was one of your campaign slogans – “Jo kaha so kiya” (what I promised, I delivered)

Speaking on the occasion of Golden Jubilee celebration of the Delhi High Court, you suggested a new experiment. You said,

Can we not have a judicial system in Delhi where it would take approximately six months for a civil or criminal case to conclude? We are ready to give the required number of officers, financial aid, land, etc., to have such a system.
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How do you convince us that what you said wasn’t a mere ‘jumla’ when you yourself engage in the game of ‘tareeq-pe-tareeq’ and wilfully cripple the judicial system when it suits you?

You criticised Narendra Modi, and rightly so, for his silence on the murder of Mohammad Akhlaq by a mob of right wing fanatics on a mere suspicion of beef in his fridge.

What justifies your silence on one of the biggest issues that’s plaguing India at the moment? What justifies your silence on these new rules banning cattle trade for slaughter and the writ petition challenging beef ban in Delhi?

Yours,

Gaurav Jain

(The author, a student of law at Delhi University, is the lead petitioner in the petition challenging the constitutionality of laws banning possession and consumption of beef in Delhi. He tweets at @gauravjain26. The views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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