Political row as meat banned in Mumbai

Mumbai, Sep 8 (IANS) A political row has erupted over the ban on sale of meat for four days during the upcoming ‘Paryushan’ Jain holy festival here.

The ban, imposed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will be implemented on September 10, 13, 17 and 18 when slaughter of meat will be stopped in the Deonar abattoir and sale will not be permitted in the city.

The Paryushan is scheduled between September 10-17, with the 10-day Ganeshotsav starting from September 17, and Bakri Eid falling on September 22-23.

The decision to ban meat sale – following a demand by the Ahimsa Sangh’s Vishwamaitri Trust, besides Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politicians like Raj Purohit and Atul Shah – was promptly passed by the BMC on Monday.

However, the Shiv Sena, senior ruling partner in the BMC coalition with BJP, distanced itself from the ban, though it respected Jain religious sentiments.

Besides the ban on slaughter of all animals, meat and poultry shops and fish markets shall remain shut on these four days, raising the heckles of the traders, businessmen and retailers of these fast-moving items in the city.

The Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, the AIMIM, Samajwadi Party have joined the Shiv Sena in opposing the ban.

“This has come soon after a similar eight-day ban on meat in entire townships of Bhayander and Mira Road in Thane district for the Paryushan festival, and barely months after the people have been forced to stop beef consumption in the state last May onwards,” said AIMIM legislator Waris Pathan.

The BJP-controlled Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation last week imposed the ban on meat during Paryushan on the nearly million-strong population comprising significant chunks of Christians, Muslims and other Hindu meat-lovers, sparking off outrage.

It is is still not clear whether bringing meat from outside the ban areas would be permitted, and whether hotels and restaurants would be permitted to serve it within their premises.

Shiv Sena MP and executive editor of Saamana Sanjay Raut stoutly opposed the ban, and said: “You cannot decide what we should eat or not…”

MNS outspoken corporator Sandeep Deshpande said that the BJP is going against even the eating habits of the Marathi-speaking population who are meat-eaters.

“During our period of fasting or the holy month of Shravan, don’t ask for ban on meat everywhere… Then why is (the BJP) favouring one particular community,” Deshpande asked.

“This nothing but vote-bank politics played by the BJP and trying to please one section of people by bowing to such demands… We strongly condemn this move,” said SP legislator Rais Shaikh.

Congress leader of opposition in the BMC Devendra Amberkar pointed out that Mumbai is a cosmopolitan city and since ages, people have been living peacefully and celebrating all festivals without encroaching on each others’ eating habits.

“Why are they favouring one community and depriving all others from eating meat,” Amberkar said.

Interestingly, the Vishwamaitri Trust has given a memorandum to BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta demanding a full eight-day ban, but it was approved for four days.

The first such ban was permitted way back in 1964, then in 1994, later in 2004, in 2013 there was a two-day ban on meat during the Jain festival.

Strong reactions have poured out even on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp on the meat-ban moves by the MBMC and now the BMC.

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