‘Misplaced priorities’: Social media slams Indian state’s decision to develop beef ‘detection kits’

‘Misplaced priorities’: Social media slams Indian state’s decision to develop beef ‘detection kits’
India’s state of Maharashtra wants to acquire beef “detection kits” to enforce a controversial ban forbidding the killing of all cows. People on social media have criticized the move, saying the government has more important things to worry about.

The kits will be able to detect a type of meat in 30 minutes, so police won’t have to wait days for the results. Officers won’t have to transport suspicious meat or the vehicles selling it either, as it could be checked on the spot with the use of the kits.

Maharashtra’s forensic laboratory is to develop the kits, Deputy Director K. Y. Kulkarni of the premier Forensics Science Laboratory (FSL) in Mumbai said, as cited by the Hindustan Times newspaper. 

“If preliminary tests reveal that the meat is that of a cow, we will collect samples and conduct a DNA test in the FSL. We will then draw up a final report,” said Kulkarni.

Some 45 forensic vehicles will receive these beef ‘detection kits’ in August of this year. A single kit costing Rs8,000 ($123) can check up to 100 meat samples, the HT cited senior officials as saying.

DNA testing costs Rs750 ($11) to check a single sample, and the FSL gets thousands of samples, which would be more costly to check than developing the new kits.

DNA testing is already available in Maharashtra’s capital, Mumbai, and the cities of Nagpur and Pune. Two more cities in Maharashtra, Aurangabad and Nashik, will get the system in a few days, Indian media reported.

Cows are revered as holy by India’s Hindu population, who make up 80 percent of the country’s population of 1.3 billion people. 

The Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act of 1976, which was updated in March of 2015, forbids the killing of all cows, calves, bulls, and bullocks.

“Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force or any usage or custom to the contrary, no person shall slaughter cause to be slaughtered or offer for slaughter any cow, [bull or bullock] in any place in the State of Maharashtra,” the ban states.

READ MORE: Three Indian men face 5 yrs in jail over beef slaughter

Following the ban, the country saw a rise in so-called ‘cow vigilantes’, who attack farmers and violently prevent cattle from being slaughtered.

READ MORE: India should prosecute ‘cow vigilantes’ for brutal attacks on Muslims & ‘untouchables’ – HRW

The idea of ‘progressive’ beef detection kits has sparked angry comments on social media, with some saying the authorities have more serious issues to deal with.

“Awful case of misplaced priorities. We have nothing more important to spend state resources on? Beef detection kits!” MP Shashi Tharoor, who once served as an India’s foreign minister, wrote on Twitter.

India’s poor water conditions, unemployment, and malnourishment are not priorities for the government, some have suggested.

Twitter users went on to suggest other types of kits that Indian people need more than beef detection devices, for example, a kit detecting serious diseases.

The government will probably develop other ‘necessary’ kits, like one that detects cheating wives, one user sarcastically wrote.

Others simply wondered why the government was paying so much attention to beef detection.