The first day of the four-day meat ban for the Jain festival of Paryushan saw a partial shut down of meat shops across Mumbai. While many remained open without any hindrance, not all meat stalls at Crawford Market were open for business. The Deonar slaughterhouse, however, remained shut throughout the day.
Shahnawaz Thanawala, vice-president, Bombay Mutton Dealers Association, said, “Business was the same and there were no protests in front of our shops.”
However, Thanawala said a shortage of meat was expected from Friday onwards as the municipal slaughterhouse in Deonar was shut on Thursday. “Even though the amount of meat and chicken being consumed by the city is lower because of Shravan (holy month under the Hindu calendar wherein many people fast or abstain from non-vegetarian food ), there could be lower supply. At the same time, a large number of daily wage labourers will suffer,” said Thanawala.
According to goat and mutton dealers, 1kg of mutton costs Rs 410-420, depending on the quality and Rs 440 a kg at retail shops. Similarly, chicken costs Rs 80–90 a kg at retail shops and was selling at wholesale outlets at Rs 70.
“Since the supply of chicken comes mostly from the outskirts of cities like Pune to Mumbai, the price of chicken will increase to Rs 120 a kg. A fear psychosis has developed in the minds of dealers who do not want to supply to Mumbai,” said Thanawala.
Restaurant managers said such bans only ended up increasing the prices. “We are paying more for the meat,” said Sobhan Kadiwal, the manager of Al Rahmani restaurant, Byculla.
Other butchers said the high prices were leading to better profits. “The price has gone up to Rs 460 a kg from Rs 400 and is expected to go up in the coming days. Everybody wants to hoard mutton,” said Shamshuddin Choudhary, a butcher from Mutton Street at Mandvi.