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Beef trade across states

Currently, beef sells at Rs 350 per kilogram in Aizawl markets, while pork sells for Rs 250 per kg and poultry sells for Rs 240 per kg.

Written by Shaju Philip , Adam Halliday , Subrata Nagchowdhury |
Updated: October 27, 2015 12:00:26 pm

Mizoram goes to neighbours

In Mizoram, beef remains the second most consumed meat after pork. Cattle is imported from other states such as Meghalaya and Assam and also from Myanmar, with which the state shares more than 400 kms of un-fenced border. The state does not export the meat elsewhere. According to the state Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department, the total production of beef in 2013-14 was 3,459 tonnes, rising marginally to 3,587 tonnes the following year. Statistics show the beef consumption within the March-June period this year was almost 1,260 tonnes. The consumption of pork is, however, almost twice that of beef. The main festive season comprising of Christmas and New Year, usually sees a spike in meat consumption, including beef. Currently, beef sells at Rs 350 per kilogram in Aizawl markets, while pork sells for Rs 250 per kg and poultry sells for Rs 240 per kg. Interestingly, the state however has no statistics for the number of young animals such as calves slaughtered for meat since locals traditionally do not eat meat of non-adult animals.

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Long journey to Kerala

The beef business remains as usual in Kerala. The recent controversy has so far not affected the state’s meat industry. With no ban on slaughtering cattle, including cow, beef is available across Kerala, throughout the year. However, the beef has a long journey, sometimes starting from Bihar and Odisha before it reaches a Kerala table.
Kerala’s beef market is constituted by small-scale traders who source animals from cattle markets and slaughter them either at a permanent slaughter house or in an open area. Kerala depends on other states for its regular supply of animals. Traders or their agents in various states source animals such as buffalo, cow, bull and ox from Bihar, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Of these, Tamil Nadu is mainly supplying cow. Although Odisha has banned inter-state transporting of cattle, agents bring animals on foot to Odisha-AP boarder in East Godavari to mount them onto trucks. Similarly, traders in Karnataka would take the animals on foot to the border areas, before handing them over to counterparts in Kerala. According to K H Kamaludheen, general secretary of Meat and Cattle Merchants Association, “On an average, roughly 3,000 animals are ferried into Kerala from other states via various roads.’’ The truck-loads of animals are unloaded in 44-odd weekly markets across Kerala.

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Kolkata has its own legacy

For the connoisseur of good food — the Nizam’s in New Market in Kolkata is still a favourite haunt for “khiri kababs” (made from cow udder) or the “minced beef roll.” Equally, delicious is the “sutli kababs” (chopped beef stitched in thread and marinated in exclusive spices, burnt in slow, moderate heat) in a narrow by-lane close to Nakhoda mosque. In cosmopolitan Kolkata, these are still some of the outlets that might have given the first taste of beef to hundreds of people cutting across religious lines.

Post 2014 Lok Sabha polls, when there was a buzz that Kolkata’s heritage 150-year-old cow slaughter house of the British era will be shut down as a new modernised one had come up, the BJP’s local unit sat on a dharna for several days demanding that the Trinamool Congress run Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) board should desist from closing it down. The BJP state leadership responded with expulsion of several BJP activists of the area for causing an embarrassment to the party.

However, in Kolkata, a massive trade spins and thrives around beef and buffalo meat even as rising waves of intolerance and a virulent campaign hit different parts of the country against beef eating and cow slaughter.

With no ban on cow slaughter in force in West Bengal, Kolkata, since the British raj has a well established beef and buffalo meat production business. The city has about 3,000 meat dealers and butchers and the trade involves exports of processed beef and buffalo meat as well a flourishing business in animal hides and leather products. “But the ripples of an anti-beef campaign is beginning to hit our shores,” says Md. Ali, president of the Calcutta beef traders association.

“Our supply chain is affected seriously in recent weeks as there are physical interceptions, huge extortions and even threat of violence while large animals — cows, ox and buffaloes are being shipped from other parts of India to the Kolkata slaughter houses.”

“An attempt is being made to identify the animal trade with a particular community — the Muslims. But there exists a large section of other community people who are associated with various forms of animal trade,” adds Ali. If the trade is hit, a large number of people will be affected cutting across religious lines, says Ali.

Police officials said that trucks carrying live stocks of large animals have come under attack by activists of the BJPs cow development cells. However, Subrata Gupta, president of the cow development cell said that they had never resorted to violence. “We had informed police and other authorities about how these cows are brought in a pathetic condition and that if Supreme Court has banned the slaughter of cows it should be applicable across the country. Our applications have fallen on deaf ears as section of the police is helping in this cattle smuggling,” Gupta said.

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