Janajati CA members bat for rhino

  • national animal
- POST REPORT, Roshan Sedhai, Kathmandu
Janajati CA members bat for rhino

Jul 13, 2015-

Janajati members of the Constituent Assembly have demanded that one-horned rhino be declared the national animal of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, instead of the cow that has been proposed.

They argued that the endangered species as the national animal would be a secular image of the nation, which would also be helpful in preserving it. The constitution draft names cow as the national animal.

Fifty-nine Janajati CA members, in their joint note of dissent on the draft, argue that rhino would not just be a neutral symbol but also support the country’s conservation efforts.

“Cow is the election symbol of a political party and is associated with a particular religion. Keeping it as the national animal undermines the sentiment of many ethnic communities in the mountains who eat beef,” said Pemba Bhote, CPN-UML lawmaker and general secretary of the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (Nefin).

Every country has national symbols representing its people, values, goals, or history. “The state can use the law as an instrument to criminalise non-Hindu population eating cow meat just like before. But replacing cow with rhino will be acceptable to everyone,” said Bhote.

Cow was recognised as the national animal by earlier constitutions. The animal holds high place among the Hindus who worship cow as the goddess of wealth (Laxmi).

Janajati CA members representing the Nepali Congress, UML, UCPN (Maoist) and fringe parties claim that identifying cow as the national animal contradicts the spirit of secularism. They claim that it would also promote religious bias.

Hundreds of non-Hindus faced prosecution in the past for slaughtering cow for meat. Nepal has many laws that criminalise cow slaughter, which is opposed by indigenous communities.

For instance, according to the Vehicles and Transportation Management Act-1993, a person has to pay Rs500,000 in fine or serve life imprisonment or both if s/he kills a cow in a traffic accident. For killing a person, the vehicle owner is set free after paying Rs500,000 in fine and Rs25,000 for funeral expenses.

Experts and even Janajati lawmakers, however, think it would be difficult to replace cow as the national animal as the move might be opposed by a majority of lawmakers from the major parties. Nefin Chairman Nagendra Kumal, who is an NC lawmaker, said the agenda is open to discussion.

Published: 14-07-2015 07:35

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