Opposition by a Jain organisation stalled a maiden goat export flight from Nagpur to Sharjah on Saturday. The Akhil Jain Samaj, a representative body of the Jain community, opposed the proposed export of 1,500 goats, brought from Rajasthan to Nagpur, on the ground of “violence against animals”, with the state government tamely giving in and calling off the flight.
As a result, a high-profile programme, to be attended by Union Surface Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Animal Husbandry Minister Mahadev Jankar and Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu had to be put off.
BJP Rajya Sabha MP Vikas Mahatme, who was behind the goat export idea, told The Sunday Express, “There was opposition from the Jain community, so we have put off the programme. We will hold talks with them and will try to convince them about the economic potential goat export holds for Vidarbha region, particularly communities like Dhangar and farmers engaged in allied activities. As it is, livestock export has been going on from various seaports for the past few decades. So there is nothing that can suddenly be seen as objectionable.”
Incidentally, Mahatme represents the Dhangar community, traditional livestock farmers, which has long been fighting for reservation from the Maharashtra BJP government. For both Mahatme and minister Jankar, goat export was a way of placating their angry community.
Defending their opposition, Richa Jain, the Maharashtra unit president of the Digambar Jain Mahasamiti, which is part of the Akhil Jain Samaj, said, “The Jain community is against all kinds of violence. The goat export would have brought a bad name to Nagpur, which is the city of oranges. It would bring us the curse of the animals. In Nepal, such butchering of animals brought a climate disaster sometime back.”
When pointed out that animals get slaughtered by thousands every day all over the country, she claimed, “Law says that meat can be exported, not live animals. We have also been opposing the slaughter of animals.” Jain said a PIL will be filed in the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court on Monday seeking a ban on goat export. She also confirmed that Jain community leaders had sought the intervention of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on the matter. “We also gave representation to Gadkari, the Chief Minister and Prabhu.”
Ulhas Mohile, the proprietor of US Enterprises, which had organised the logistics for the export, said, “We had made all the arrangements, brought the goats from Rajasthan and sought services of a chartered flight of Amigo Logistics from Dubai. We have already spent a lot of money, which will be compensated by the government.”
Expressing surprise at the opposition, Mohile added, “Goat export has already been going on from Rajasthan. It was an attempt to make a beginning at Nagpur and expand it further to benefit local livestock farmers.” A senior BJP leader also expressed dismay, saying, “This was an attempt to provide support to the Dhangar community. Everybody was disappointed.” Asked if a fresh bid would be made to launch the programme, he said, “It’s unlikely in the near future.”
Incidentally, the one other voice of protest on Saturday to the export idea was from the Congress. In Gujarat, state party spokesperson Manish Doshi expressed surprise at the BJP government resorting to export of goats as an exercise to help farmers, after having often slammed the previous UPA government’s meat export policy as ‘Pink Revolution’.