Gadhimai Hindu Festival
A butcher prepares to slaughter a buffalo inside an enclosed compound during the sacrificial ceremony.Reuters

The BJP government in Maharashtra has banned slaughter of bulls and bullocks.

Earlier, the state, which already has banned cow slaughter, had allowed slaughter of bulls and bullocks after they were certified as "fit-for-slaughter." 

President Pranab Mukherjee gave his assent to the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 1995 that imposes the ban.

There is an exception, however; slaughter of water buffaloes, which give inferior quality of meat, will be allowed, according to The Indian Express.

Possession or sale of beef could result in jail term of five years and a fine of Rs 10,000, according to the Act.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis welcomed the news in a tweet. 

"Thanks a lot honourable President sir for the assent on Maharashtra Animal Preservation Bill. Our dream of ban on cow-slaughter becomes reality now."

Beef traders say the move will have an impact on the livelihood of many people, especially Muslims, apart from a spike in prices of other meat.

"Apart from rendering people jobless, the immediate effect will be the spiralling price of other meats as people will be forced to gravitate to them," president of the Mumbai Suburban Beef Dealer Association Mohammed Qureshi said.

Some of them are planning to explore legal options. 

"We are now holding deliberations to see if we can challenge this in any way. The beef traders have been impacted but it will be the farmers who will be affected the most. Who will care for the old and infirm animals that were earlier sold for meat?" Arif Chowdhury, an office bearer of the All India Jamiatul Quresh, an organisation of beef traders, said.

Ironically, a report few days ago had said that India's export of buffalo meat has overtaken basmati rice exports in the first nine months of financial year 2014-15.

"As per the data with Agricultural and Processed Food Products Exports Development Authority (Apeda), the buffalo meat exports in April-December period rose over 18% y-o-y to Rs 22,986 crore. The shipment of Basmati rice in the same period fell marginally to Rs 20,471 crore mainly due to import curbs by Iran, the largest export destination for Basmati rice," said The Financial Express.

India exported basmati rice worth Rs 29,291 crore and buffalo meat worth Rs 26,457 crore last financial year, the report added.