Chief Minister Devendra Fadnvais has assured protection to beef traders in Maharashtra who have been on strike for the past few days. The CM has said the rule of law will be followed and no one will be allowed to harass traders in the state.
Beef traders had been complaining against harassment being meted out to them alleged by right-wing groups. Beef has not been available in nearly 75 major towns and villages of Maharashtra, with traders going on a strike. Beef is also not available in Deonar, which is one of the largest markets supplying nearly 90,000 kg of beef to Mumbai every day.
Based on the CM’s assurance, several associations of beef traders and butchers will hold a meeting in Solapur on Saturday where they are likely to take a call on their future course of action and may also decide on calling off the strike.
“The CM met us for over 45 minutes. He assured us that he was bound to uphold law and order in the state and everyone who is doing a legal business would not be unnecessarily harassed,” said Mohammed Qureshi, president of the Mumbai Suburban Beef Dealer Association who was part of the delegation that met the CM.
A senior government official present during the meeting said the CM had given orders to all police officials in the state to ensure law and order was maintained and no one was unnecessarily harassed.
“The CM told us that no one apart from the police can stop vehicles carrying animals,” Qureshi added. Beef traders have been complaining that vehicles ferrying animals were stopped and illegally confiscated allegedly by right-wing activists.
While slaughter of cows is prohibited in the state under the Maharsashtra Animal Preservation Act of 1976, that of bulls, bullocks and buffaloes is allowed subject to a fit-for-slaughter certificate. The traders have claimed that they are hounded despite possessing these certificates.
Beef is generally seen as the poor man’s meat and costs nearly a third of mutton. Mumbai has 900 licenced stalls that sell beef and an equal number of illegal stalls. The culling and processing of the animals, however, take place only in Deonar where on an average nearly 450 big animals are slaughtered every day.
Right-wing groups and Jain organisations have been asking for shutdown of the Deonar abattoir, which is one of the largest in the country.