The police in Karnataka made their first arrest under the newly promulgated anti-cow slaughter ordinance, in Sringeri in Karnataka’s Chikkamagaluru district, reported The News Minute. A first information report was filed against Abhidali, who was travelling from Davangere to Mangaluru via Sringeri, after a police officer on January 8 found him transporting 12 to 15 cattle in his truck.

“A group of unidentified persons attacked the driver of the vehicle [Abhidali] transporting the animals,” a police officer told ANI. “While the cleaner managed to flee the spot, the driver who was attacked by the miscreants is currently undergoing treatment at a local hospital. He has also been booked for illegal transport of animals.”

According to the complaint, another vehicle accompanying Abhidali was carrying around 15 cows. The driver and the cleaner of the other truck are absconding. Chikkamagaluru Superintendent of Police Hakay Akshay Machindra told The News Minute that Abdhidali and the two others were charged under the Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill 2020 in two separate cases.

A third FIR was registered against unknown persons who stopped the truck driver. They were charged with assault. A police officer noted that the new law protects “persons acting in good faith” to stop cow slaughter from legal action. However, Machindra told the news website that an FIR was registered against them.

Karnataka Law Minister JC Madhuswamy said he did not know about the arrest or the assault, according to NDTV. He said the attack on the driver was “not acceptable”, but also defended provisions in the law that might lead to increased vigilante activity. “If, with good intention, someone stops the movement of vehicle, or stops purchase or sale... it cannot be taken as a cognizable offence,” he said.

He added that if the provision leads to thuggery, he does not mind discussing it. “Nobody can be made free to take the law into his hands,” the law minister said. “It is wrong. We have not allowed them to have goondaism in the name of the anti-cow slaughter Act.”

The state government on Tuesday promulgated the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Ordinance, 2020, reported The Hindu. The bill was passed in the Legislative Assembly during the Winter Session of the legislature, however, it was not cleared in the Legislative Council. Following this, the state government issued a gazette notification promulgating the ordinance.

Not only does the law impose a complete ban the slaughter of all cows, bulls, bullocks and calves, it also outlaws the slaughter of buffaloes below the age of 13.

Smuggling and transporting animals for slaughter is also an offense. The law imposes a stringent punishment upon violation of the legislation, including imprisonment between three years and seven years with a fine not less than Rs 50,000 per cattle that may be extended up to Rs 5 lakh.

Critics say that the legislation, which is in line with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s Hindutva politics of cow protectionism, undermines the food practices of many Indians, for whom beef is a cheap source of protein. The law also penalises those who work in the meat and leather industries that depend on cattle slaughter, many of whom are Muslim.