Mumbai, Sep 10 (IANS) A four-day ban on meat in Mumbai — in view of a Jain religious festival — stirred huge protests in India’s financial capital on Thursday, while the measure was quietly enforced in Rajasthan.
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court, meanwhile, reiterated an over 150-year-old ban on beef in the state.
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, in a bid to regain political relevance, led the protests in Mumbai’s Dadar suburb, the hub of the meat-loving Maharashtrian community by selling the banned items on Thursday — the start of the eight-day-long Jain holy festival of Paryushan which devouts observe through religious austerity/fasting and forgiveness.
“We challenge the authorities to take action against us This meat ban is unjustified, violates our fundamental rights and intended to appease a particular community against the wishes of the huge majority,” MNS leader and corporator Sandeep Deshpande told media persons.
He dared the civic authorities to “take action” against the sale of chicken and fish and said the people were entitled to eat whatever they wanted anytime, and the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had no right to stop them.
After the hour-long impromptu fish and chicken market, Deshpande and half a dozen protestors were detained by the police and the temporary stalls were removed.
Earlier this week, the BMC imposed a ban on sale of meat on four days of the Paryushan festival, while the adjoining Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation in Thane had declared a complete ban during September 11-18.
Other civic bodies like Navi Mumbai and Nashik have also followed suit with similar partial ban on certain days, hitting the slaughter and sale of mutton, chicken and fish items.
Though the ban has been implemented in Mumbai in spurts since 1964, it has never led to street protests.
However, after the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena government came to power and banned beef in the state, most parties have strongly protested at the meat-ban this year on Sep. 10, 13, 17 and 18.
Hearing a public suit filed by Bombay Mutton Dealers Association (BMDA) challenging the BMC’s move, a divison bench headed by Justice Anoop Mohta directed the civc and state authorities to file affidavits on the issue.
Terming the ban as ‘not feasible’ in a metropolitan city like Mumbai, Justice Mohta observed that such a straight ban cannot be a formula.
He further stated that while the ban is on slaughter and sale of meat, what about other sources like packaged meat products already available in the markets.
The matter will come up for further hearing on Friday.
The order issued by directorate of local self government addressed to all the district collectors and municipal bodies said, “keeping in mind the Jain festival of Paryushan sale of meat, fish and slaughter houses would remain closed for three days on September 17 and 18 due to Paryushan and Samvatsari and then on September 27 due to Anant Chaturdashi.”
Anant Chaturdashi is an important day in the Hindu and Jain calendars of festivals.
Meanwhile, a division bench of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court comprising Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Justice Janak Raj Kotwal directed the director general of police (DGP) to ensure strict compliance of the order on beef by issuing appropriate directions to all the senior superintendents (SSPs) and station house officers (SHOs) in the state.