Connect to share and comment

A guide to the dynamic economics, politics, and culture of the world's most populous region.

India: 7 years in jail for eating beef

Central Indian state beefs up laws against cow slaughter
7 years in jail for eating beefEnlarge
Put your hands up and step away from the burger. Eating beef will now cost you seven years of rigorous imprisonment in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh -- part of the Hindu "cow belt." (Majid Saeedi/AFP/Getty Images)

Put your hands up and step away from that burger.  It could land you in jail.

That's right.  Thanks to a new law in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, you could get seven years of hard time for eating beef -- or for storing or transporting it, for that matter.  And police can search anyplace where they suspect that such an offense "has been, is being or is likely to be committed," reports the Indian Express.

Chuckle if you want.  But this is serious business.  The specter of cow slaughter has been used to whip up tensions in the so-called "cow belt" countless times in the past.  Not only does it result in violence between Hindus and Muslims, but it is also often the motivation behind the lynching of Dalits -- some of whom are employed to remove cattle carcasses.

In that context, the extremely stiff sentences and broad police powers granted by the law have the whiff of religious persecution.


Featured Slideshow

The 2013 World Press Photo Awards

Culled from more than 100,000 submissions, these photos represent the best in photojournalism from the past year.