Karnataka’s Congress-led government in a last-minute decision on Wednesday revoked a ban on the sale of meat to mark Ganesh Chaturthi amid an outpouring of criticism across the country over similar prohibitions in about half a dozen BJP-ruled states.
Food and civil supplies minister Dinesh Gundu Rao announced a day ahead of the religious event that the state’s local bodies were directed to withdraw the embargo following his tweet this week saying the ban was just notional as it would not be enforced.
Sale of meat on Ganesh Chaturthi became taboo in the state after the BJP came to power in 2007 and the urban development department ordered the restriction though it was not ratified by the legislature. Orders barring either the slaughter of animals or the sale of meat in parts of states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh to ostensibly respect Hindu and Jain festivals have fuelled an ever-swirling debate.
While several right-wing organisations support these moves, many minority groups and activists have termed such decisions a blow to individual freedom and India’s secular fabric.
The Karnataka government’s announcement came on a day it emerged that a Hindu organisation had asked West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to ban slaughter, transportation and sale of beef between October 19 and 22, the four days of Durga Puja, the state’s biggest religious celebration.