RPI chief Ramdas Athawale will lead the protest in Mumbai on April 15.

"Our first agitation against the State Government's decision to ban beef sale and consumption will be held on April 15 at Nagpada in South Mumbai. We have invited representatives of various religious communities along with Muslim MLAs and MLCs to support our cause. With this protest, we hope the Government will have a rethink on its decision," Athawale told reporters here.

"We strongly oppose the Animal Preservation Act that has got consent from the President. Those who oppose cow slaughter are also against the new Act. Hence, the Government should re-consider continuing with this Act," he added.

The Act will cause problems to farmers whose animals have become too old or cannot be used for farming purpose, the Rajya Sabha MP said, adding the Government should not get emotional and consider the rational and economic aspects of the ban.

"We do not want to disturb peace currently prevailing in the State, but we will continue to fight for the rights of
people," the Dalit leader said.

The President recently gave assent to the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act. While the old law, notified in 1976, banned the slaughter of cows, the new changes prohibit slaughter of bulls and bullocks as well.

The sale of bulls, bullocks for slaughter has been made a crime, which is punishable with a jail term of up to five years and a fine of Rs 10,000.

The possession of meat of a cow, bull or bullock is also an offence which can be punished with one-year jail and a fine of Rs 2,000.

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