Terming the state government’s crackdown on illegal abattoirs an attack on their right to employment, hundreds of meat sellers held a demonstration at PM Narendra Modi’s public relations office in Ravindrapuri on Tuesday.
The meat sellers, including Quereshi community members, from city and rural parts besides several CPI-ML members gathered at Revari Talab area. They walked for around two kilometres before they reached the PM’s public relations office. Urging Modi and the UP chief minister to get the slaughterhouses reopened, they shouted slogans like ‘Band karo, band karo, meat sellers ke rozgar par hamla band karo (stop attack on employment of meat sellers).
Their other demands include ban on cow vigilantes and easy licence process for meat shops besides alternative employment arrangements for those associated with the meat trade. “Earning livelihood by choice is our right. Hundreds of meat sellers have been rendered jobless ever since the crackdown on slaughterhouses started,” said a protestor Mohammad Asif.
The protestors demanded that the modernisation of slaughterhouses should be expedited. One abattoir has been sealed by the Varanasi Municipal Corporation (VMC) and two others shut down because modernisation is under way there. They also condemned the recent lynching of Pahlu Khan by a group of cow vigilantes in Alwar district of Rajasthan. The ‘gau rakshaks’ accused him of illegally smuggling cows for slaughter.
The meat sellers submitted a memorandum addressed to the PM Modi to the officials at the mini PMO. The authorities there assured them of forwarding their message. CPI (ML) office bearer Manish Sharma and many other members also joined the protest.
“Crackdown in the name of protecting environment is suppression of right to employment. There should be some alternative arrangements for these people to help them earn their livelihood,” Sharma stated.
In the last five weeks, nearly 38 shops, which didn’t have licences, and over 62 others were served notices for violating rules.
“We took action against around 100 meat shops in the city. Thirty eight meat shops, which didn’t have licences, were closed down and 62 other shops faced legal action for not following the standard norms like maintaining hygienic conditions,” said Varanasi Nagar Nigam chief veterinary office Dr Aslam Ansari.
The shops are in Jaitpura, Bhelupur, Lanka, Cantonment and Adampura police station areas.