India's police seek cow 'mugshots' to enforce beef ban

A woman spreads out fodder for rescued cattle at a "goushala", or a cow shelter at Aangaon village in the western Indian state of Maharashtra on Feb 20, 2015. The police in a west Indian township have asked cattle owners to supply photographs of
A woman spreads out fodder for rescued cattle at a "goushala", or a cow shelter at Aangaon village in the western Indian state of Maharashtra on Feb 20, 2015. The police in a west Indian township have asked cattle owners to supply photographs of their animals to help enforce the state's tough new ban on beef, an officer said on Wednesday, April 1. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

MUMBAI (AFP) - The police in a west Indian township have asked cattle owners to supply photographs of their animals to help enforce the state's tough new ban on beef, an officer said on Wednesday.

Nearly 100 farmers and other owners in Malegaon have so far complied with the request for mugshots along with a dossier on the cows, said Mr Sunil Kadasne, additional superintendent of the city. "After the new law, commercial slaughter has largely stopped but this program will help us to stop all killing by helping trace any animal thefts faster," he told AFP.

The Maharashtra state government introduced a tough ban in March on killing and selling cows, while even possession of beef could land you in jail for five years. Cows in Hindu-majority India are considered sacred and several other states also ban their slaughter.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh told spiritual leaders on the weekend that his Hindu nationalist government would try its "level best" to introduce a nation-wide ban through consensus.

Mr Kadasne said the request for information on cows, which includes supplying purchase records and reasons for ownership, were also aimed at defusing possible tensions between Muslims and Hindus in the area, which has a history of communal violence.

"Once we get most of the cattle recorded, it will be easy to squash complaints looking to create communal mischief," Mr Kadasne said.

Malegaon is about 270km north-east of state capital Mumbai.

Last month, northern Haryana state also toughened its beef ban, including jail terms for selling cow meat.