The Nagaland cabinet on Friday banned the sale of dog meat, the consumption of which has been protested by animal rights activists over the years. “The State Government has decided to ban commercial import and trading of dogs and dog markets and also the sale of dog meat, both cooked and uncooked. Appreciate the wise decision taken by the State’s Cabinet” tweeted Chief Secretary Temjen Toy, tagging official handles of the Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and Member of Parliament and animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi.
On June 30, Maneka had made an appeal on the official Twitter handle for People For Animals — the animal welfare organisation she founded — highlighting the “unabated” killing and eating of dogs in Nagaland. “This is illegal according to the laws of India and it cannot be allowed under the guise of culture” said Maneka in a statement, sharing a picture of a number of dogs in gunny sacks allegedly taken in the “animal bazaar of Dimapur.” Maneka also requested people to email the Chief Secretary of Nagaland requesting him to stop “dog bazaars and dog restaurants” in the state.
Dog meat — considered a delicacy among certain communities of Nagaland and some other parts of the Northeast — has been traditionally consumed in parts of the state for decades. Certain communities in Nagaland also consider dog meat to have medicinal properties.
“Notification will be issued with relevant section of the law and it will be enforced by the district administration, police, Municipal Administration and the Veterinary and Animal Husbandry,” Mmhonlumo Kikon, government spokesperson, MLA & Advisor to the Government of Nagaland, said late on Friday.
In 2016, the state government had reportedly contemplated taking action after an advocate from Assam sent them a legal notice on the matter. However, no decision was taken. In the same year, Maneka had written to the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Minister Jitendra Singh raising the matter.
While Chief Secretary Toy was not available for comment, sources from the government told The Indian Express that the decision was prompted by the bad press the state had received in the past few years for the practice. Of late, a social media outrage campaign has also brought the issue to the fore.
On July 2, Varda Mehrotra, Executive Director, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations, had issued a statement appealing to the government to take immediate action to “implement a ban on the sale, smuggling and consumption of dog meat in the State and ensure the enforcement of stringent animal welfare laws.”
“The state had received a number of appeals from animal lovers world over asking for the ban,” said the government source, adding that they had received thousands of emails and tweets with appeals.
It is also learnt that the cabinet cited the Regulation 2.5 of Food Safety & Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulation 2011, FSSAI which lists out meat and meat products which are fit for consumption. Dog meat is not on the list, and thus, considered unfit for human consumption, the cabinet reasoned.
Following the cabinet’s decision on Friday, people from some sections of Nagaland have taken to social media to protest the ban citing it as an imposition on the state’s traditional culture.
“When it comes to eating habits for any community, it is not good to impose such rules,” said Chuba Ozukum, former president of the Naga Hoho, Nagaland’s apex tribal body. “It is expected that people will react to this,” he said, referring to the social media reactions to the government decision.
“The entire population does not eat dog meat,” he said, “The main question is how is the government planning to implement this because those who have been consuming dog meat have been doing so since their forefathers’ time and they will not necessarily abide by these new rules.”
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