Meat sellers across Uttar Pradesh launched an indefinite strike on Monday against an ongoing crackdown on illegal and mechanised slaughterhouses. With the issue gaining political colours, here’s what you need to know about the issue.
1) The crackdown
The BJP government under new chief minister Yogi Adityanath launched an operation against illegal slaughter houses and cattle smugglers, a key pre-poll promise of the party that won a landslide victory in the state. Several abbatoirs which the authorities were running illegally have been closed down and more than 50 people arrested. Meat sellers’ organisations say the crackdown had created a fear psychosis among the traders and even licensed slaughter houses are being targetted. They have also cited loss of livelihood of thousands of people associated with the business. Also, several meat shops were set ablaze, allegedly by Hindu right-wing activists.
2) Tightening the screws
The government has also decided to list the names of cattle smugglers in village crime notebooks, gather intelligence on their activities and tighten vigil along inter-state borders to prevent illegal cattle trade. State chief secretary Rahul Bhatnagar also directed district magistrates and senior superintendents of police in all 75 districts to detect illegal abbatoris and initiate strict action. “Information related to illegal slaughtering in past five years should be analysed and routes of transportation should be shortlisted and surprise checking should be initiated on that,” the latter said.
3) The impact
Traders say that the crackdown has led to a severe shortage of all kinds of meat, even of buffalo, one of the most preferred choice for lakhs of people who cannot afford the costlier mutton and chicken. The shortage of buffalo meat has forced many eateries including the famous Tunday and Rahim’s to shift to mutton and chicken dishes. As the mouth-watering kebabs went off the platter, the owner of another famous eatery said the situation might force the hoteliers to get mutton from Delhi which will in turn push up prices. There are fears that the shortage of buffalo meat will deprive the economically weak section of the much needed protein in their diet. There are reports of shortage of meat for animals in Lucknow zoo.
When meat is not available how can we make Kebabs? People still come but go back disappointed: Marrat, a worker at Lucknow's Tunday Kababi pic.twitter.com/g74cMSwaUK— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) March 27, 2017
4) CM’s assurance
Chief minister Adityanath Yogi has, however, said that licensed abattoirs will not be touched but action will be taken against illegal slaughter houses. “The illegal abattoirs would be closed down,” he at Gorakhpur. He added that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in the past couple of years insisted too had insisted on their closure. “The government will not touch those (abattoirs) which are operating as per the provisions of law and have a valid licence. But, those which are violating the orders of the NGT and playing with the health of the public would not be spared...”
Action being taken against illegal slaughterhouses only, legal slaughterhouses should continue to follow regulations: SN Singh, UP Minister pic.twitter.com/iMeT7f8ziL— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) March 27, 2017
5) What now
A section of meat sellers have already closed shop in protest but it has now become a statewide agitation. Fish vendors are also said to have resolved to join the stir which has seen non-vegetarian delicacies go off the menu in several parts of the state. “We have decided to intensify our strike...All shops will remain closed. Fish sellers too have joined us and are extending support to us,” said Mubeen Qureshi, an office-bearer of Lucknow mutton sellers’ association. “It will go on indefinitely,” he said.