NPR

New Rules Against Animal Cruelty Raise The Stake For India's Beef Wars

The rules ban cattle sale for slaughter at livestock markets and come at a time of escalating tensions between Hindu extremists and beef-eating minorities. They could also hurt India's beef exports.
Many upper caste Hindus consider the cow holy and have long rallied to ban beef eating. Critics of the government see the new animal cruelty rules as an effort to cater to these demands. / Allison Joyce / Getty Images

Walk through any meat market in India, and you'll see chickens cooped up in tiny cages, squished together in their own waste. Carcasses of goats hang from hooks at butcher shops, as the next goats wait in line for their fate.

So when India's Ministry of Environment issued new rules recently about animal cruelty in livestock markets, much of it was welcome. For example, the ministry said animal markets needed to have water and fodder, veterinarian services and humane modes of transportation.

But one section of the new rules has set off a firestorm about people's right to eat what they want, state rights and religion. It also threatens the livelihoods of small farmers and

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