The four-day ban on animal slaughter and sale of meat during Jain ritual Paryushan turned into a political slugfest on Tuesday as the BJP said it should be imposed for eight days while the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena strongly opposed the move.
Following a demand by two BJP legislators, Raj Purohit and Atul Bhatkhalkar, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation on Monday issued a notice that the Deonar slaughter house and all meat shops in the city would remain closed for four days this month.
As civic officials and party leaders tried to play down the issue saying it was not the first time that such a ban was imposed, senior minister Prakash Mehta from the BJP took an aggressive stand and told the media the ban should be enforced for eight days and not four.
“The sentiments of one community should be respected by others,” he said.
The BJP’s alliance partner Shiv Sena lambasted the move. “Who gave Jains the right to decide what others should eat? Majority of Indians are non-vegetarians and their rights should not curbed,” Sena MP Sanjay Raut said.
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) opposed the decision and threatened to violate it.
“We will not allow this circular to be implemented. We challenge the BMC to do that. The government cannot force citizens over their eating habits,” Sandeep Deshpande of the MNS said.
Sanjay Nirupam, president of the Mumbai Congress, said, “Muslims sacrifice buffaloes during Bakr-Eid. Will the government also keep religious sentiments of the Muslims in mind and allow them to sacrifice buffaloes keeping in view their religious sentiments?”
Civic officials maintained that it was an annual ban.
“The ban imposed this year has been imposed as per the legal process. There are total 18 days in the year when such a ban is observed as a mark of respect to the country or a personality or any community. If orders are violated, we will initiate action against the meat shop owners,” said a senior civic official who did not wish to be named.
Restaurants, however, will serve meat, the Indian Hotel Association of Restaurants said. The fishermen community has also decided to sell fish and keep their shops open during the period.