Mumbai, April 8: A day after the Bombay High Court asked the government that why animals like goats do not figure in its ban on cattle slaughter, there is some news which will bring relief to the people who were worried by the news.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday sought to defuse the row over the statement of the state Advocate General on cow slaughter ban, saying the beef ban will not be extended to any other meat.
The Bombay High Court on Monday mooted a licence policy by which import of meat of cows and bulls slaughtered outside the state can be permitted.
As the purported remarks by Advocate General Sunil Manohar before the Bombay High Court that the government might consider extending the ban to other animals as well triggered a controversy, Fadnavis said that according to the law officer, his statement was "misinterpreted".
"I have spoken to Advocate General. He has said that his statement in the court yesterday has been misinterpreted," Fadnavis said in the state Assembly in Mumbai.
The Chief Minister's remarks came in the wake of the AG's response to the high court's query to the government as to why there is a ban on slaughter of cows, bulls and bullocks only and not to any other animals like goats.
"Neither Advocate General Sunil Manohar has tabled such a view nor given any such reference," he said, adding, the government has no stand regarding a blanket ban on slaughter of animals other than cows and bulls.
Raising the issue in the House, members from BJP ally Shiv Sena, Arjun Khotkar and Sunil Prabhu, sought to know the state's stand on the high court's query to the government.
Earlier, Sunil Prabhu (Sena) said the AG's statement had created confusion in the minds of people.
The beef ban has already sparked protests from political and cultural groups, alleging it amounted to encroachment on individual choices and eating habits of large sections of people, especially the minority communities.
Chaotic scenes were witnessed in the state Legislative Council, as Opposition and Shiv Sena members opposed the AG's statement.
Shiv Sena MLC Neelam Gorhe was the first to raise the issue that the government should clear its stand about not eating non-vegetarian food.
Meanwhile, former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said the AG's statement had given the perception that the present government wants the whole of Maharashtra to be converted into a vegetarian state.
"I have an apprehension that somebody from outside, may be RSS or its ideologues, is guiding this government. What the law officer (AG) told the court yesterday had given a perception that the government wants the entire Maharashtra to be converted into vegetarian state," he said.
CPI-M's Brinda Karat said the AG's remarks were a direct "intrusion and invasion" into the food habits of people.
"You can persuade a person to go vegetarian but you certainly cannot put a ban on people eating non-vegetarian food," he said.
Former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi said the Maharashtra government should tread cautiously on the issue of banning cattle slaughter.
(With inputs from agencies)