Beef traders see a silver lining after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee opposed the Centre’s changes to the rules on cattle trade, and have proposed an early morning shift in state-run abattoirs in Kolkata to avoid hassles with transportation.
Describing the Centre’s ban on sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter as “unconstitutional, undemocratic and unethical”, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had on Monday said it was the Centre’s deliberate attempt to “encroach upon the state’s power and federal structure of the country”.
She further asserted that her government would not “accept this order and challenge it legally”. Other states such as Kerala and Karnataka have also opposed the Centre’s move.
“We are thankful to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for taking a stand. After what happened in Uttar Pradesh, and the Centre’s ban, supply of animals has dwindled in slaughterhouses in Kolkata and other areas. Now we see a silver lining,” said Muhammed Ali, state president of Jamiat-ul-Quraish and president of Beef Dealers’ Association.
According to Ali, the influx of cattle to the state has slowed considerably following the stir in Uttar Pradesh and the Centre’s latest move. Beef dealers want other state governments to follow suit, to avoid hindrances from cow protection vigilante groups and police in states such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which export cattle to Bengal.
According to the traders, lakhs of jobs have been jeopardised in the state following recent developments.
“We have made a proposal for early morning shifts to the government (Kolkata Municipal Corporation). At present, in state-controlled slaughterhouses in Tangra, work is done from 1 pm to 5 pm, and meat is supplied in the evening and night. We have proposed to shift the time of slaughter from 5 am to 10 am,” said Ali.
“Apart from providing fresh meat, the early morning timings would also help us avoid hassles on transportation. There are fewer people on the roads before 10 am, and we will finish our distribution to shops early,” he added.
Earlier over 300 animals, both buffaloes and cows, were slaughtered in a government-run slaughterhouse in Tangra area of Kolkata every day. Following the crackdown, the number has come down to 100 to 120 animals.
Animals are also slaughtered in Rajabazar, Mehdibagan, Narkeldanga, Alimuddin street and some other parts of the city.
“Now, weekly four or five buffaloes are slaughtered in Tangra. Earlier, hundreds were available every day. The animals have stopped coming,” said Ali.