Hundreds of Muslims from Old Bhopal marched towards the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday to protest against the proposed closure of the city’s only slaughterhouse before a new one can be set up at an alternative site.
Taking the matter into consideration, justice Dalip Singh held a meeting with city collector Nishant Wardwade, Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) commissioner Chhavi Bharadwaj and chief secretary Anthony de Sa inside his chambers. After the meeting was over, state government counsel Sachin Verma said he will present an affidavit providing details of the slaughterhouse project on Wednesday – following which the tribunal would consider whether the old abattoir should be allowed to function until the new one was constructed.
The case pertaining to the closure of the old slaughterhouse was scheduled for hearing at the NGT on Tuesday.
The protesters took out the rally from Old Bhopal, arriving in front of the tribunal premises around 10.30am. The agitation continued till 4pm, during which police were deployed in and around the area. Both the approach roads leading to the NGT building were barricaded to prevent protesters from rushing into the building.
BMC opposition leader Mohammad Saghir, who led the agitation, told reporters that they wanted to let the tribunal know that they were ready to have the slaughterhouse shifted to any site in or around Bhopal. The problem was solely caused by Huzoor MLA Rameshwar Sharma, who opposed the setting up of the slaughterhouse at the alternative site, he added.
The protesters, including Muslims of the Qureshi caste and Hindus of the Khatik caste, demanded that they be allowed to carry on with their meat business. “Over 600 to 700 meat shops in and around Bhopal will be crippled by the closure of the city’s only slaughterhouse, affecting nearly 10,000 people,” said Raes Ahmed Qureshi, a resident of Old Bhopal.
Describing the meeting in the judge’s chamber, Verma said the chief secretary and other officials used the opportunity to apprise the two-member bench comprising Justice Singh and Dr SS Garbyal on the progress in the slaughterhouse project, and the hurdles faced by them in that regard. The NGT, in its order, said: “The counsel for the state prays for leave to file an affidavit regarding the steps the government has taken so far. Let this matter be listed on August 31.”
In September last year, the NGT had directed the state government to shift the slaughterhouse to an alternative site by June 30.