Mumbai: Slamming the Modi government for its plan to impose ban on beef across country, Press Council chief and former Chief Justice of India Markandey Katju Wednesday said there should be freedom to eat what one wanted to in a free and democratic country.
"I have myself sometimes eaten beef. I normally do not eat it, out of respect for my wife and other relatives, as they are conservative Hindus. But if the occasion arises, I will again eat it" he wrote in his latest blog published after Home Minister Rajnath Singh's speech to Jain saints in Indore.
"I am not forcing others to eat beef, but why should others prevent me ? There should be freedom to eat what one wants in a free democratic country", he added.
Recalling Singh's speech in which he said he supported a national ban on cow slaughter, and would try for a consensus on the issue, Justice Katju said, "I see nothing wrong in eating beef. Most of the world eats beef. Are they all wicked people?".
"Beef is a source of cheap protein, and many people in India e.g. in the North Eastern states of Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura,etc and in some other states like Kerala, eat beef where its sale is not banned", he added.
Sttaing that such bans make India a laughing stock before the whole world, Katju said, "Those who raise a hue and cry against cow slaughter are not at all bothered by the suffering of tens of thousands of cows which are not properly fed.
"When cows grow old, or for some other reason can no longer give milk, they are often driven out and left to fend for themselves.
"I have seen cows eating filth and garbage by the side of roads. I have seen cows so thin that their ribs are protruding out of their flesh. If cows are made to starve is that also not cow slaughter ? But nobody is bothered about that", he added.
Stating that such bans are more for political considerations than anything else, he said, "For instance, in Maharahshtra there was already the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act, 1976 which prohibited slaughter of a cow ( which was defined to include a male or female calf ) but permitted slaughter of bulls, bullocks and buffaloes on obtaining a 'fit for slaughter' certificate. "
"But now by a new law effective from 2.3.2015 sale and export of beef has been totally prohibited, causing loss of many jobs.
"There are some who say that killing a cow is like homicide. I find this a silly argument. How can one equate an animal with a human being?
"I am afraid that reactionary right wing elements are behind such bans, which are not in the interest of the nation", he said.