Decisions triggers massive uproar
The virus of meat ban is fast spreading across the country, triggering massive protests and inviting judicial intervention. On a day, Chhattisgarh imposed a nine-day ban on the sale of meat and chicken and Gujarat placed a seven-day embargo on non-veg consumption, the Mumbai high Court frowned at the ban and Kashmiri Separatists held a huge protest in Srinagar.
Under pressure from all quarters, the Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation(GMMC) informed the Bombay High Court on Friday that it was withdrawing its September 1 circular imposing a ban on slaughter as well as sale of mutton and chicken in the city on September 13 and 18 (during the Jain fasting Paryushan) “keeping public interest and the sentiments of Mumbaikars in mind”.
The GMMC had declared the ban for September 13 and 18 and the state government had banned it for September 10 and 17. After the civic body’s decision, Mumbai would now go without meat only on September 17.
On the first day of ban on Thursday, Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) had made a mockery of the ban and set up kiosks and stalls to sell meat and chicken. The Opposition Congress and NCP are also against the ban, which is only being defended by the BJP.
During the hearing on Friday, the High court observed that such a restriction could not be imposed in a city like Mumbai. “There is a progressive look attached with Mumbai. Such decisions are regressive in nature. What to eat is an individual choice. How can you restrict that?” the court said.
The court also wondered what was the rationale behind permitting the sale of fish, seafood and eggs during the period of this ban. “How are fish and eggs different? Killing them is not violent? What is the rationale behind such a decision?” it asked.
To this, Advocate General Anil Singh came with an amusing reply. “Fish dies the moment it is taken out of water. Hence, there is no death due to slaughter.”
But the court remained unimpressed by such argument and said, “What is the idea of having the ban on some days and allowing slaughter and sale of meat on other days? Is it that there is no sentiment on one day and the next day you are filled with sentiment? What is the idea behind this?”
The matter has been posted for orders on September 14.
Such bans have come up for criticism both from thousands of those engaged in the sale of meat and chicken as well the consumers. Questions are also being raised if the sale of meat and chicken could be proscribed to appease members of the Jain community who form less than one percent of the country’s population then why not have similar ban in place for religious festivals of Hindus.
The rush among the BJP-ruled states to impose the ban on sale of meat and chicken is seen as move by their Chief Minister to humour the Rashtirya Swyamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Interestingly, in Mumbai the protest against the meat ban is being spearheaded by hardcore Hindu outfit Shiv Sena, which is a partner of the BJP-led government in Maharashtra. Even as the Sena defied the ban in Mumbai and warned the Jains that they will have nowhere to go if they raise such demand, the BJP state governments of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Chaattisgarh have jumped into the ban bandwagon.
In Ahmedabad, Police Commissioner Shivanand Jha has issued a banning slaughter of animals for a week during the Jain fasting period. Rajasthan has imposed three day ban and Chhattisgarh banned the sale of meat till September 17 for the Jain festival of Paryushan.
On top of it, the Jammu and Kashmir High court on Thursday directed the state government to enforce an existing order against beef eating in the state. A day later on Friday, huge protests erupted across the Kashmir Valley including old Srinagar city against the Court’s direction to police and the Government decision to enforce ban on sale and possession of beef. The Police detained several separatist leaders who have called for a shutdown on Saturday. The court ordered could not be enforced as several bovine animals were publicly slaughtered.
All this brings to mind the question, “What happened to the Development Agenda”?