Ban on beef sale draws criticism

T.V. Sivanandan

Gangavathi CMC has stopped cattle slaughter

Beef is a major source of dietary protein for economically poor groups

Proposal sent to the Government for establishing a modern abattoir on the outskirts of the town

GANGAVATHI (KOPPAL DISTRICT): The slaughter of cattle and sale of beef in Gangavathi town has been stopped over the last two months under pressure from the Sangh Parivar.

Beef is a major source of dietary protein for economically poor groups such as Dalits and Muslims.

The Gangavathi City Municipal Council has cracked down on beef sale and cattle slaughter citing the unhygienic conditions under which these activities take place.

Most butchers do not get the mandatory clearance from a veterinarian before they slaughter the cattle.

Yet, the sale of beef has gone on for several years in this fashion with the administration taking no action against the alleged illegalities.

Hindutva organisations acknowledge that the BJP Government in the State has provided them new avenues to achieve their aims.

Girish Kulkarni, spokesman of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) told The Hindu that activists of the Hindu Jagran Manch were responsible for forcing the police and municipal authorities to close down the beef market after a raid two months ago.

While S. Shekarappa, Commissioner of Gangavathi CMC, said that the existing beef market and the slaughterhouse adjacent to it would be repaired and sales resumed in a month, Mr. Kulkarni said: “will not allow the slaughterhouse or beef market to reopen temporarily as proposed by the municipal authorities as it is situated in the heart of the town and unsafe for public health.”

According to the CMC official, a proposal has been sent to the Government for establishing a modern abattoir and beef market at Hosalli on the outskirts of the town.

Meanwhile, the police have registered at least seven cases against 30 butchers and their family members for violating the rules governing cattle slaughter.

According to Mohd. Saleem and Haji Aleemuddin, butchers, who also sell their beef in the market, the Gangavathi MLA Paranna Munavalli of the BJP had told them to stop slaughtering cattle as the only way out of the impasse.

“We do not know any other trade. What will happen to us and our families if we give up the sale of beef,” they asked.

On an average an estimated 20 quintals of beef used to be sold in the beef market.

Consequent to the ban, the prices of the mutton and chicken have shot up.

Mutton, which was sold at Rs. 150 a kg is now priced between Rs. 190 and Rs. 200 a kg.

Chicken which was sold for Rs. 60 a kg is now priced between Rs. 90 and Rs. 100 a kg.

There is simmering discontent among the 66,000 Dalits and 40,000 Muslims over what they perceive as a blatant attempt to impose an upper caste Hindu food code on them that unfairly restricts their dietary rights and nutritional requirements.

Huligamma, an elderly Dalit agricultural labourer, said: “Beef was the only meat we could afford. Mutton and chicken are costly, and vegetables we could not dream of purchasing them with our low income.”

Khaja Bani, wife of a petty shop owner in the Muslim locality next to the Dalit colony, was even more indignant. “This is nothing but a violation of our right to have the food of our choice,” she said.

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