Almost Meat Ban in Gujarat ?

Abdul Hafiz Lakhani for BeyondHeadlines 

Muslims are in Gujarat are facing a very unique problem –the scarcity of Mutton in the meat market as Gujarat government tightens the noose around mutton sells and related people who are in the business. In recent concluded Ramzan the price of mutton soared so high that it was almost impossible to buy for the common Muslims. Close on the heels of this situation Muslims in state will find very difficult to sacrifice the QURBANI cattle.

The Jain community in the Ahmedabad walled city has begun a campaign to free their places of worship from being damaged due to commercial complexes being built near them and from the non-vegetarian food lovers who throw the remains of the same near jinalayas.

A leaflet and a form is being circulated among the Jains living in the walled city asking them to “wake up” and “preserve community living” and save the jinalayas from being damaged due to illegal commercial constructions. Speaking about the campaign, Maitri Ratna Maharaj Saheb, told, “We have been running this campaign for some time now.

The purpose is to save the aura of the jinalayas. There are people living near the jinalayas who have non vegetarian food. They throw the remains of their food in front of their houses and animals bring those things to the jinalayas.”

Palitana Municipal Committee is buckling under the pressure of the Jain religious leadership and passed a resolution in its general body to ban the sale of meat and other non-vegetarian food, including eggs, within the municipal limits. The decision would be implemented after inviting objections from the residents of the town with a population of over one lakh, with 25 per cent of it being Muslims.

According to the local government officials, about 40 percent of the population of the town is non-vegetarian. A municipal official told this reporter that apart from Muslims, many Hindu communities like Kolis are also non-veg and opposing the decision. Out of two non-veg hotels in the town, one is run by a Sindhi Hindu and another by a Muslim.

BJP is in majority in the municipality, occupying 30 seats in a house of 36. Six Congress members led by Hida bhai Baloch, a Muslim, boycotted the resolution. However, Baloch refused to make any comment when contacted.

Municipality’s chief executive officer J L Dave said: “We will invite objections from the people as it is a policy matter. We can’t take a decision on our own. Depending on the response of the people, we will write to the state government.” He said that everything would depend on the reactions of the people to the municipality.

Another official told that this decision was taken by the municipality under political pressure as Jains were politically very influential in the state and contributed a lot to the BJP election coffers. However, the official said that the decision for a ban was not as per constitutional provisions. Muslim residents of the town fear that if the ban is implemented, they would also not be allowed slaughter animals during Baqrid which is their religious duty. They say that the decision is in favour of one community, overlooking the religious responsibilities of the other.

They have requested the administration not to buckle under the pressure of Jains who do not account for even five percent of the town’s population. Palitana is a well-known Jain pilgrim town, with thousands of Jain visiting the temple every year. Palitana is about 70 kms from Bhavnagar about 400 kms from Ahmedabad.

Gujarat government is mulling over demands for the creation of a vegetarian zone in Palitana town in Bhavnagar district following the now-concluded hunger strike by Jain monks. Around 200 monks in Palitana — one of the holiest pilgrimage sites for Jains — had gone on the hunger strike four days ago demanding a total ban on sale of eggs and meat, and strict implementation of the law against illegal slaughter in the town.

They called off their agitation after assurances from the government.

“If the Palitana municipality moves a resolution, we will think about it. The town has a population of 50,000 out of which 15,000 are from the Muslim community. Since it is a mixed township, we cannot ban non-vegetarian items completely. We would like a ban in the whole country, but we cannot do it.

The monks were saying that the current rules on illegal cow slaughter were not being implemented strictly,” Tarachand Jagshibhai Chheda, Minister for Cottage Industry, Salt Industry and Cow Breeding, told here local Muslims say the demands by the monks discriminate against them. Most Muslims eat meat and eggs as part of their diet and say it is essential they are able to offer sacrifice during specific religious holidays.


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