The Karnataka Assembly on Wednesday passed an anti-cow slaughter bill, even as members of the Congress party staged a walkout, reported PTI.

The Prevention of Cow Slaughter and Cattle Preservation (Amendment) Bill seeks a total ban on the slaughter of cows in the state and stringent punishment to those who indulge in smuggling, illegal transportation, atrocities on cows and slaughtering them. It provides for a jail term of three to seven years and (or) a fine up to Rs 5 lakh, reported NDTV.

Chaos ensued in the Assembly after Congress MLAs, led by leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah, trooped into the well of the House, after Animal Husbandry Minister Prabhu Chavan tabled the bill, reported PTI. The Opposition MLAs alleged that the bill was not discussed for tabling in the Business Advisory Committee meeting.

“We had discussed yesterday that new bills will not be tabled,” Siddaramaiah said. “We had agreed that only the ordinances will be passed. Now he [Chavan] has all of a sudden introduced this anti-cow slaughter bill.”

However, Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri announced that he had clearly said during the meeting that important bills would be tabled on Wednesday and Thursday. Not convinced with the reply, the Congress MLAs trooped into the Well of the House and raised slogans against the BJP government.

The Congress has expressed fears that the law may be misused for polarisation on communal lines and target minorities. On the other hand, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has maintained that the bill is to protect cows, believed to be a holy animal for the Hindu community.

After the bill was tabled, cows were brought into the Vidhana Soudha, or the Secretariat, and Chavan performed a ritual, reported NDTV.