Sri Lankan Govt to move ahead with its plan to ban cow slaughter

Sri Lankan Govt to move ahead with its plan to ban cow slaughter

Sri Lanka government under Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, in an unprecedented move, has decided to outlaw cow slaughter across the country.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) led by Rajapaksa won the elections held last month and secured almost 2/3 of the total seats. The new government plans to get a law banning the slaughter of cows across the country passed soon.

On Tuesday, the SLPP's parliamentary group was informed by the PM, that the government is in the process to bring in the laws banning cow slaughter. Mr Rajapaksa stated that the ban on cow slaughter has been on the party’s agenda for quite some time, but could not materialize earlier. 


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A brief look at Demands of a ban on cow slaughter in Sri Lanka

In his comprehensive study of cow protectionism in Sri Lanka, James Stewart of Deakin University (Cow Protectionism in Sinhala Buddhist Sri Lanka, January 2013) says that it is linked to aspects of Sinhala Buddhist culture, its closeness to Hindu beliefs and practices, and also a periodical social or political need to use it to differentiate Buddhists from people following Abrahamic religions like Islam and Christianity.

Buddhist monks across Sri Lanka have been protesting against cow slaughter, they are being backed by the Hindu section of the society.

Photo Courtesy: NYT

In 2013, a Buddhist monk set himself on fire protesting against cow slaughter. In the same year, Sinhalese Buddhist groups had launched a campaign opposing halal certification. 

In 2018, Sri Lanka saw major anti-beef protests when members of a Hindu outfit "Seva Senai" took to the streets of Jaffna. Seva Senai claimed that Sri Lanka belongs to Buddhists and Hindus, and the country has no place for cow slaughter.

Although Sri Lanka is almost 100% non-vegetarian, unlike India, most of the country’s Sinhalese Buddhist & Hindu populace avoids beef consumption. Buddhists make about 70% of the Sri Lankan population and generally refrain from consuming beef. 

The beef consumption is mostly limited to Muslim, Christians and Immigrants. The government does not plan to impose any ban on beef imports.