TAMIL NADU

Keep off rituals, Ramadoss tells Govt.

VILLUPURAM Oct. 10. The founder-leader of the Social Justice Forum (SJF), S. Ramadoss, has urged the State Government to keep off ancient rituals and lift the ban on animal sacrifice in temples.

Leading an agitation against the ban, in front of the Collectorate here today, Dr. Ramadoss said it was wrong to interfere with the basic rights of the people to perpetuate the kind of worship they inherited for generations. Depending upon the belief and tradition, various sections were following diverse practices of giving offerings to their deities.

When elephants and several pots of milk and ghee were donated to temples and so many people did `angapradatchnam', no one objected. But when it came to the poor and the downtrodden, the Government chose to impose a ban. He asked whether the Government would be bold enough to put a ban on butchers killing sheep, goat, fowls and bulls.

If it was harassment to animals such as overloading bullock carts and breeding in captivity deer and peacocks for their meat and feathers, the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animal would take care of it. When such was the case, the sudden ban on animal sacrifice seemed to be motivated, he said. He queried whether it would be feasible to convert all the non-vegetarians into vegetarians overnight. Moreover, a balanced vegetarian diet would cost people dear, he said. Meat, chicken and beef were the richest and cheapest sources of protein for manual labourers.

He charged the former Union Minister, Maneka Gandhi, with focusing more attention on safeguarding animals than on human beings. Statistics showed that 30 per cent of people in India, and 45 per cent in Tamil Nadu, did not have even one square meal a day. In such circumstances, the ban was a needless one, he said.

Dr. Ramadoss also took exception to the Government proposal to open IMFL shops in villages, and called upon the rural women to resist the move. Already, the rural households were suffering from menfolk's addiction to liquor and the setting up of IMFL shops would deteriorate the rural economy.