Meat traders, however, alleged they were being targeted despite having licences and all permissions in order.
Lucknow: Meat sellers across Uttar Pradesh went on indefinite strike from Monday in protest against the state government’s crackdown on unauthorised and mechanised slaughter houses. UP chief minister Adityanath Yogi has, however, reiterated that no action will be taken against the slaughter houses that were operating legally.
UP health minister Siddhartha Nath Singh also asked officials not to get “over-excited” in taking action and said vigilantism by the police was not acceptable. He also said closure of establishments for minor issues like non-functional CCTV cameras was unacceptable.
Meat traders, however, alleged they were being targeted despite having licences and all permissions in order. “We have decided to intensify the stir from today. All meat shops have downed their shutters and fish sellers are also supporting us. The indiscriminate crackdown on slaughter houses has rendered thousands jobless”, said Mubeen Qureshi, who heads the Bakra Gosht Vyapar Mandal.
Reports from several districts said goat meat was not easily available, while chicken was being sold in a few shops. In Lucknow, most shops selling mutton downed their shutters. Chicken, eggs and fish, however, started being sold after the UP health minister’s clarification that action was being taken only against illegal abattoirs. “We are acting only against illegal abattoirs. Licenced slaughter houses are requested to stick to the norms,” he told reporters, making it clear no orders have been issued to take action against any shop selling chicken, fish or eggs. “They need not fear,” he added. The Akbari Gate locality of Old Lucknow area saw a few shops opening to sell their remaining stock, while many others decided not to open.
In eastern UP, shortage of meat, specially mutton, was reported from various places. In Ballia, people faced a shortage of chicken and fish as well. Licenced shops were allowed to sell meat in Allahabad and Bahraich, where the sale of fish and eggs was normal.
In Agra, the stock of raw non-vegetarian food items fell rapidly during the day. No sale of mutton was reported, while people were purchasing fish and eggs. Jhansi saw non-availability of mutton, and even fish and chicken could be found only at a few outlets.
Official sources said UP has 38 government-approved slaughter houses while the total number of such units in the country is 72. Most of the 38 slaughter houses are export-centric and local demands are fulfilled by unauthorised or standalone slaughter houses. Buffalo meat from India is in demand in Gulf nations due to the low cost and the assurance that the meat is “halal” — slaughter that is religiously appropriate.
The closure of unauthorised slaughter houses has directed affected the local meat market and a majority of restaurants have already put up notices that non-vegetarian fare will not be available.