India's top court suspends ban on trade in cattle for slaughter

This article is more than 12 months old

NEW DELHI: India's Supreme Court yesterday suspended a government ban on the trade of cattle for slaughter, a boost for the multi-billion dollar beef and leather industries mostly run by members of the Muslim minority.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist government in May decreed that markets could trade cattle only for agricultural purposes, such as ploughing and dairy production, on the grounds of stopping cruelty to animals.

The slaughter of cows, considered holy in Hinduism, was already banned in most parts of India, but Hindu hardliners and cow vigilante groups have been increasingly asserting themselves since Mr Modi's government came to power in 2014.

Muslims, who make up 14 per cent of India's 1.3 billion people, said the decree against the beef and leather industry employing millions of workers was aimed at marginalising them.

The Supreme Courtacknowledged the hardship that the ban on the trade of cattle for slaughter had imposed. - REUTERS