Why will the sale of meat be banned for four days in Mumbai?
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will suspend the sale of meat in its markets and shut down its slaughter house in Deonar, suburban Mumbai, on September 10, 13, 17 and 18 as these dates fall within the eight-day Jain festival of Paryushan, during which the community shuns all root vegetables.
The ban covers mutton and chicken, and excludes fish and eggs. It also extends to private businesses selling raw meat.
Is it a new ban?
No. It has been in force since 1964, when the BMC passed a resolution directing a two-day prohibition on sale of meat in deference to the demands by Jains, a powerful community which holds many stakes in business and industry in Mumbai.
In 2004, the Congress-NCP government passed another resolution endorsing the two-day ban. Since then, the ban has been extended to four days across Mumbai every September. “Two days are according to the 1964 BMC resolution and two on account of the state’s 2004 resolution,” said a senior BMC official.
The ban comes close on the heels of the Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation passing a resolution to ban sale of meat in the satellite town’s civic markets for the entire eight-day Paryushan period.
What is the stand of Mumbai’s political parties?
Senior BJP leaders are seeking an eight-day meat ban in Mumbai. Manoj Kotak, BJP leader in the BMC, said, “Lord Mahavir is an avatar of Vishnu. If the Jain community feels that harming animals will hurt the community’s sentiments during Paryushan, then what is wrong in demanding a ban? When people refrain from drinking liquor on October 2, do politicians question their decision?”
Regional parties like the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) are opposing the ban because it “attacks Marathi eating habits”. Leader of the BMC House and senior Sena leader Trushna Vishwasrao said, “We respect Jain sentiments and asked slaughterhouses to remain shut but banning the sale of meat is extreme. They are directly attacking our meals. Jains are a minority community in the city. Why should we risk the interests of other communities for them?” MNS corporators in the BMC called BJP the “Bharatiya Jain Party”. “This is cultural terrorism. Today, they have banned the sale for four days, will they ask us to stop eating meat,” said MNS corporator Sandeep Deshpande.
The Congress has done a U-turn. Having passed the state government resolution supporting the two-day ban in 2004, it is now opposing it. Sanjay Nirupam, president of the Mumbai unit of the Congress, has termed the BMC’s ban “undemocratic”. “Though religious sentiments should not be hurt, other communities should not be deprived of their daily meals. We condemn this decision,” he said.
Why the brouhaha now if it has been an annual affair for 41 years?
Simply because this year, it comes just six months after the Maharashtra government’s controversial decision to ban the sale of beef in the state. While the slaughter of cows was previously prohibited in the state under the Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act of 1976, the implementation of the ban means that bulls and bullocks cannot be slaughtered for meat either. Anyone found to be selling beef or in possession of it can be jailed for five years and fined Rs 10,000.
In the light of the controversial beef ban, the 41-year-old seasonal ban on mutton and chicken is also raising eyebrows.
Meanwhile, butchers in the city say the four-day ban would affect their business for 15 days.
“The ban will affect the transport of livestock and cause suffering to daily wage labourers,” said Shahnawaz Chand, a butcher who has shops in Crawford Market, Chowpatty and Grant Road. “Catholics fast during Lent, Hindus during the month of Shravan, but they never demand any ban. It is only Jains who seek a ban every year,” he said.
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