Non vegetarians in Mumbai may not be able to get fresh meat for four days during September 10 and 18 as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has issued a circular banning the slaughter and sale of meat.
The meat ban will start on Thursday during Paryushan, a fasting festival observed by the Jain community. The Shiv Sena-BJP controlled civic body has released the circular based on the previous circulars issued in 1964, 1994 and the Maharashtra government's order in 2004.
A BMC official told Business Standard: "There is nothing new in the meat ban. This has been implemented since 1964. The only change is that it is now for four days, including September 10, 13, 17 and 18." He added till 2013 the ban on meat sale in the metropolis was restricted to two days. However, since 2014, BMC in the wake of a judgement of the Supreme Court and the subsequent representation by the Jain community increased it to four days.
Civic officials also said that the prohibition will not affect the sale of poultry, fish and other seafood. They added that the step was taken in view of the growing demand not only by the Jain community, but also from some corporators.
"On these four days, BMC slaughter houses will be shut and sale of meat will also be prohibited. The market department (of BMC) has been asked to enforce the ban and ensure no animal is slaughtered and no meat is sold anywhere in the city," a senior civic official said.
The BJP insisted it was "not a ban" but "being tolerant towards very community in the spirit of secularism". However, its ally Shiv Sena, which has a majority in the country's richest corporation BMC, said the ban is unsupportable and alleged that the BJP was "trying to appease" some sections of the society.
Congress leader Sachin Sawant said it was imposition of RSS ideology, while Manish Tiwari called the decision, a sign of BJP's 'fascist' behaviour.
"The real question is whether the state has the right to transgress and intrude into personal choices. If this is not fascism, then what is?" asked Tiwari.
Tiwari also appealed to the secular groups of the country to come together and fight against the fascist attitude.
Condeming the ban, Shiv Sen spokesperson Neelam Gorhe said,"The Mayor of BJP-ruled Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation (in Maharashtra's Thane District) is trying to use a section of society for political reasons."
RJD leader Manoj Jha said the Maharasthra government is trying to malign the way people have lived so far.
"I fail to understand what the essential issues in governance are. Are these kinds of issues part of the governance? History bears witness that we have been living together very comfortably having his/her own taste, or food habits and so on and so forth," Jha told ANI.
"I think somehow a very exclusive mechanism is being developed which is detrimental to the idea we have lived so far," he added.
Opposing the order, the Qureshi community said their businesses will suffer heavy losses if the meat ban stays and they will approach the Mayor for its review. "If we don't get justice, we will file a writ petition in High Court, go on a hunger strike and fight for our rights."
Civic officials said if the ban is violated, stern action will be taken.
The BMC's circular comes immediately after the Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC) announced its decision to ban the sale of meat and slaughter of animals during the fasting period.
The 2011 census puts the Mira Bhayander's population at 8.5 lakh. Of this, around 1.25 lakh are Jains.
It must be mentioned here that after coming to power in the state last year, the BJP-led government banned the slaughter, sale and import of beef.