India’s spreading beef bans hit farmers, traders – and lions

Farmer Nitin Tarode wants to sell his old bull to help pay for his sister’s wedding after his income was hit by patchy rainfall. But a renewed thrust by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party, the BJP, to protect cows, worshipped by majority Hindus, means he can’t find a buyer in Maharashtra state. The ban has closed abattoirs there, making it hard for farmers to sell their animals, and restrictions are spreading to other states.

My business is ruined. Farmers are offering cattle at much lower prices but I can’t buy because slaughtering is illegal now.

Asif Qureshi, a cattle supplier based in Baramati, Maharashtra

Minority Muslims and Christians, who rely on the cheap meat for protein, are struggling. Even lions, tigers and leopards in Mumbai’s national park are being fed chicken and mutton rather than their usual beef because the city’s main abattoir has been shut for the past two weeks. Not all BJP-led states are pushing for tighter restrictions on beef. The chief minister of Goa has refused to back the ban, saying that two-fifths of people there eat beef and he respected the rights of minorities.