The stand-off between the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the striking meat sellers of the Idgah slaughter house over shifting operations to the new Ghazipur abattoir continued on Monday with a senior community leader threatening an all-India agitation from October 30 if their demands are not met.

The demands included immediate re-opening of the Idgah slaughter house and the livestock mandi till appropriate and hygienic arrangements are made at Ghazipur or an alternative found to fulfil the present and future meat demands of the city.

Acting on a court order, the MCD had this past Wednesday sealed the “halal” section of the 100-year-old Idgah slaughter house and shifted operations to the new abattoir in Ghazipur. But the butchers are refusing to move citing “lack of facilities” and “unhygienic conditions.”

Sirajuddin Qureshi, who heads the All-India Jamiatul Quresh, an umbrella organisation of the meat-trading Qureshi community, alleged that the MCD was misleading the court and running a public misinformation campaign to justify their move to shift slaughtering operations to Ghazipur.

“The court order had stated that the new slaughter house at Ghazipur should be built to take care of today’s as well as future needs. However, in 1994 when the court asked the MCD to quote the city’s meat demand to accordingly design the slaughter house, the civic body quoted a figure of 15,000 animals. But now in 2009, due to the increased population, this demand has just doubled to 30,000 animals. So the abattoir has not been designed to handle the prevailing meat demand of the city and this will only further encourage illegal slaughtering,” Mr. Qureshi said.

“Besides, the new slaughter house is situated right next to a sanitary landfill site and a huge nullah making our working conditions extremely unhygienic,” he added.

Mr. Qureshi also alleged that the new slaughter house had the same point of entry for all animals to be slaughtered under ‘jhatka’ and ‘halal’ which was against the tenets of Islam.

“Islam also does not allow killing animals by giving them shock as would be done in Ghazipur. Moreover, in the new abattoir, animal owners along with their animals would have to cover a distance of 1.5 km on foot to reach the slaughter house increasing our transport cost,” he added.

Mr. Qureshi said their numerous efforts to approach Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta and area MP Kapil Sibal to seek a solution to the problem had been in vain. “We now plan to approach Congress president Sonia Gandhi to intervene as the livelihoods of six lakh people are affected by this move to shift slaughtering operations at Idgah.”

“We are just demanding our genuine right to livelihood. The chicken and fish sellers in Delhi have also promised to join us.”

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