Meat sellers go on indefinite strike in Indian state

March 31, 2017 Asia , India , News , OPINION/NEWS

Shailesh Andrade/Reuters

 

By

Jose Kalathil

Meat sellers and butchers across Uttar Pradesh (UP), an Indian state with the largest population of 204.12 million, earlier this week launched an indefinite strike against an ongoing crackdown on illegal and mechanised slaughterhouses in the state.

Many restaurants have also shut their shops in the state capital, Lucknow, and many parts of the state. As UP accounts for 60% of meat exports, it is estimated that if the strike continues, it may lose Rs 113.50 billion (US$ 1=Rs 65) per year.

Since Yogi Adityanath, the head priest of the Gorakhnath temple, became chief minister of the state following a two-third majority in the Assembly, he launched a crackdown on illegal slaughter houses and cattle smugglers, a key pre-poll promise of the Bharatiya Janata Party, a Hindu nationalist party, to which he belongs. Several abattoirs which were running illegally have been closed down and more than 50 people arrested. Meat sellers’ organisations say the crackdown had created a fear psychosis among the traders and even licensed slaughter houses are being targeted. They have also cited loss of livelihood of thousands of people associated with the business. Also, several meat shops were set ablaze, allegedly by Hindu right-wing activists.

The government has also decided to list the names of cattle smugglers in village crime notebooks, gather intelligence on their activities and tighten vigil along inter-state borders to prevent illegal cattle trade. State chief secretary Rahul Bhatnagar also directed district magistrates and senior superintendents of police in all 75 districts to detect illegal abattoirs and initiate strict action. “Information related to illegal slaughtering in past five years should be analysed and routes of transportation should be shortlisted and surprise checking should be initiated on that,” the latter said.

Traders say that the crackdown has led to a severe shortage of all meats, even of buffalo, one of the most preferred choices for thousands of people who cannot afford the costlier mutton and chicken. There are fears that the shortage of buffalo meat will deprive the economically weak section of the much needed protein in their diet.

Meanwhile, the chief minister said that licensed abattoirs will not be touched. He justified the action saying the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in the past couple of years had insisted on their closure. “The government will not touch those (abattoirs) which are operating as per the provisions of law and have a valid licence. But, those which are violating the orders of the NGT and playing with the health of the public would not be spared…”

According to an office-bearer of meat traders, Lucknow Bakra Gosht Vyapar Mandal, Mr Mubeen Qureshi, fish traders have also joined the strike. He also ruled out calling off the strike soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jose Kalathil

Jose Kalathil is a senior journalist based in New Delhi. With more than three decades of experience in different publications in India and Nepal, he is comfortable writing on any topic under the sun.

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