From Saturday, the Goa Meat Traders Association, an umbrella body which supplies meat across tourist belts, hotels and households in Goa, will be on an indefinite strike till the state intervenes to check the “rising cases” of vigilantism “in the name of beef”.
Given that consumption of meat is higher in the winter months when large number of tourists descend on Goa, meat supplies are expected to be badly hit.
For the last two weeks, the association has been trying to meet government authorities to complain about “forced cases of vigilantism and harassment” by NGOs and people claiming to represent the animal welfare board.
Manna Bepari, president of the Goa Meat Traders Association, said: “The first so-called raid happened on December 25, on Christmas day. We bring cattle meat from Karnataka since we are not allowed under law to slaughter them. We purchase the meat legally and transport it to Goa.”
“Trucks are stopped at check posts where these NGOs step in and start destroying the meat. They start by taking photographs of the meat, claiming it is beef. We have told them that we do not trade in cow meat and neither do we get it to Goa,” he said. “There is a legal procedure for seizures to take place and the meat has to be stored in refrigerators, and the sample sent to a laboratory for inspection and final report. In all these raids, these vigilante groups enter trucks with washing detergents, phenyl and destroy our meat. This is bizarre. No action is taken against them,” he said.
The meat, Bepari said, is brought from Karnataka as traders in Goa are not allowed to slaughter animals anywhere outside the government-recognised Goa Meat Complex.
“When the first raid happened, we approached the government. We had all the paperwork. The raids though have continued. Even purchase of meat is verified by officials at that end. We are going on strike till the government or the animal husbandry in Goa talks to us.”
“This silent backing to vigilante groups, who are misguiding the public, is not serving anyone. We purchase meat for legal supply to hotels, tourist shacks and other meat houses which then stock at malls and shops where Goans buy their meat. The strike is our first and loudest call for help. We want to know who will the government back, these vigilante groups or the traders who are doing the trade legally, with respect for the state’s law,” he said.
In a day, around 15 tonnes of meat is supplied through this network, with the tourists belts the biggest consumers. The association has 70 traders who then supply to retail houses across Goa. Since Christmas, Bepari said, the “raids” have continued by citizens who never carry “any identity card or documentation showing which NGO they belong to”.
In the Goa assembly, responding to a question from Francisco Silveira of the Congress, Mauvin Godinho, Minister for Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services, said in a written reply: “The Goa Meat Complex Ltd is fully operational. However, at present the traders are unable to bring animals for slaughter as they are not getting Transport Permit Certificate from concerned authorities to bring animals from outside the state.”
Meat traders across the state have been complaining of increased paperwork and fresh legal requirement being introduced in procuring animals for slaughter. On an average, the complex used to slaughter 22 cattle daily. In a separate reply, the minister said: “This being a Service Abattoir, we only slaughter the animals and supply 04 quarters of each animal to the meat traders.”