The controversies over cow protection in India show no signs of ebbing. A Twitter handle affiliated to the ultra-nationalist right wing organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh took its policing to the virtual world by asking fashion retailer Myntra to take advertisements for cow leather shoes off its site.
The handle @RSS_Org, followed by Union ministers Arun Jaitley and Smriti Irani, tweeted that the government should be taking action against Myntra, the Flipkart-owned fashion retailer.
The users behind the handle, which described itself as "independent initiative by RSS Swayamsevaks", were apparently upset with the product that the e-commerce site was selling. Cows are held sacred in India and their slaughter or sale is prohibited in most states of the country. This is not the official handle of the RSS which has the verified account @RSSorg.
Myntra responded to them with a few lessons on the Indian law.
@RSS_Org the product in question is an imported product and/or made from imported leather. the sale of leather products is not illegal (2/3)— Myntra (@myntra) November 11, 2015
@RSS_Org in India. Please be assured that we function within legally permissible norms. (3/3)— Myntra (@myntra) November 11, 2015
A lot of people on Twitter seemed to have the same concern as the RSS. And, many wanted action to be taken against the e-commerce site.
Retweeted RSS (@RSS_Org):November 11, 2015
Myntra responded to them all.
@bandral_arjun We appreciate your sentiments. We feel sorry if the sale of any particular item does not meet your approval. However, (1/3)— Myntra (@myntra) November 11, 2015
@bandral_arjun the product in question is an imported product and/or made from imported leather.The sale of leather products (2/3)— Myntra (@myntra) November 11, 2015
@bandral_arjun is not illegal in India. Please be assured that we function within legally permissible norms. (3/3)— Myntra (@myntra) November 11, 2015
Not only is India allowed to import leather goods, the country is also the fifth largest exporter of leather goods and accessories in the world.
The government legislation in India prevents the slaughter of cattle in India due to the animal's revered status. Unlike other developing nations where leather production is associated with meat production, the legislation inhibits the supply of cattle as a raw material for leather production. So, leather producers in India must wait for the cattle to die from natural causes such as old age, starvation or diseases.
However, many import cow leather soles, insoles, shoe lasts, counters, toe puffs, polishers and stiffeners. Importing cow leather is not illegal in the country.
In the last few months, India has seen a great turmoil over a ban on beef. A Muslim man was killed in a village in Uttar Pradesh by a Hindu mob on suspicion that he slaughtered and ate a cow. Trucks supplying meat have come under attack and politicians affiliated to the current right wing government have come out in support of a ban on beef. Writers, filmmakers, academics, historians and scientists have voiced their concerns over a climate of intolerance and a section of civil society have hit back claiming that the protests are motivated by politics.
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