Published On : Wed, Sep 9th, 2015

Politics behind Meat Ban in Mumbai will it extend to Nagpur soon?

Why the ban on sale of meat and chicken four days in Mumbai this month?

Nagpur: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will suspend the sale of meat in its markets and shut down its slaughter house in Deonar, suburban Mumbai, on September 10, 13, 17 and 18 as these dates fall within the eight-day Jain festival of Paryushan, during which the community shuns all root vegetables. The ban covers mutton and chicken, and excludes fish and eggs. It also extends to private businesses selling raw meat.

Is this a Fadnavis Government decision?

No. It has been in force since 1964, when the BMC passed a resolution directing a two-day prohibition on sale of meat in Jain dominant areas of Mumbai in deference to the demands by Jains, a powerful and affluent community. It holds the stakes in many important business’.

In 2004, the Congress-NCP government passed another resolution endorsing the two-day ban. Since then, the ban has been extended to four days across Mumbai every September. “Two days are according to the 1964 BMC resolution and two on account of the state’s 2004 resolution,” said a senior BMC official.

Why the strident opposition this year?

The Congress – NCP have developed collective amnesia and is opposing the ban tooth and nail this year, pretending as if it is happening for the first time.

Even the Shiv Sena, a constituent of both BMC and Maharashtra governments is opposed to the ban this year. This is not out of any new found love for minorities like Muslims – who will be affected commercially and financially – and Christians but they state that ” the ban hurts the Maharashtrian’s food eating habits”. Most politicians of all parties in Maharashtra belong to the Maratha/Kunbi community who are avid non veg eaters. In Nagpur, Saoji mutton and chicken is loved by many.

One main reason the Fadnavis government is being targeted and held responsible for the ban is that it is just 6 months ago, that they banned all beef sale in the sale. This has already affected thousands of people who were involved in the beef trade and also Dairy owners of the state who used to sell bulls and male calves for beef and now are forced to feed them and nourish them life long. It is a burden on impoverished farmers too who cannot sell their old and ailing cattle anymore.

Now, this ban will affect the meat business for not just four days but for almost two weeks since logistics will be disturbed too.

Many in the BJP are further demanding that all meat sales be stopped for the whole duration of the Jain festival, which is 8 days long; this has prompted their opponents to call them the ‘Bharatiya Jain Party’.

Why make an exception for Jains?

Hindus of Maharashtra,and elsewhere, are still observing the month of ‘Shravan’ when they are very choosy about their diet and avoid eggs – some even onions and garlic too. There is no question then of consuming non veg food – yet its sale is not restricted or prohibited this month.

Some time in January – February most Christians of all sects l observe a mourning period of ‘Lent’ when they do not consume any non veg. For them, this is the month leading up to the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ which happened on ‘Good Friday’. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving,atonement and self-denial. It is almost like the month long festival of fasting of the month of Ramzan followed by Muslims.

But, Christians do not demand it nor is their any talk of banning sale of non veg at this time.

It is not even banned during the most important Hindu festival of 5 days of Diwali.

Then why pander to just one religion which is a smaller minority in numbers than Muslims or Sikhs? Just because they wield a lot of financial clout?

Our young and pragmatic CM has to take a rational call on this and stop mixing politics and religion. There are more pressing problems for him to adress, such as the acute drought in Marathwada and straits of farmers all over the state.

Sunita Mudliyar- Associate Editor