India is wrongly accusing BJP of meat bans instead of Congress

The meat-prohibiting law was formulated in the BJP-ruled states several years ago mostly by the then Congress regimes.

 |  4-minute read |   17-09-2015
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The controversy over meat ban may be new but meat ban per se is quite old. Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP and its parent organisation - the RSS - are being slammed for meat ban, the fact is that the law was formulated in these states several years ago, mostly by the then Congress regimes. Unfortunately, the opposition and, in the case of Maharashtra, even NDA's ally - the Shiv Sena - are politicising the issue for narrow gains. In the process, however, it has contributed in further weakening the already strained relationship between the Hindus and Muslims. Besides the political parties, even national and international media have carried reports of meat ban, labeling India "Banistan", as if it has been enforced for the very first time.

Under attack are five BJP-ruled states of Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana and Chhattisgarh. In Maharashtra, imposition of ban on meat dates back to 1964 when the then Congress-ruled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) enforced it through a resolution for just one day during the Jains' Paryushan Parva. In 1994, the ban was extended by another day. It was in 2004 that the then Congress-NCP government led by Vilasrao Deshmukh endorsed, through a resolution, an additional two-day ban. Hence, the ban was imposed throughout the state for two days while for BMC it was for four days.

However, the issue became controversial this year because Mira-Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) ordered prohibition on the sale of meat, for the first time, for eight long days. The Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have opposed the ban due to political and religious considerations as Jains are considered to be traditionally BJP supporters. The Shiv Sena and MNS have been backed ironically by the Congress and NCP, in whose regime during 2004 a two-day additional ban was imposed. In a volte face, they have now termed the ban "undemocratic".

Meat ban in Gujarat during Paryushan Parva was first enforced in April, 1960 when the state was created. The state follows this ban as per the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporations (BPMC) Act, 1949. It was enforced for the first time by Congress' Jivraj Mehta, the first chief minister of the state. The successive Congress and BJP governments adopted the law as well.

In Rajasthan too, the prohibition on meat sale has been in force for several years. In fact, during the previous Congress government of Ashok Gehlot, the ban was in force for five of the eight days of the Parva in 2009. In the next two years, it was for four days. Strangely enough, the BJP government of Vasundhara Raje is under fire, despite reducing the ban to three days this year.

As far as Haryana is concerned, the state government has clarified that it has not passed any order banning sale of meat but it has just appealed to the slaughterhouses to voluntarily shut down during the Parva. Chhattisgarh, which was carved out from Madhya Pradesh (MP) on November 1, 2000, follows the same laws and rules as its parent state. The meat ban there is also not new. It was followed even during Congress government of Ajit Jogi between 2000 and 2003. It continues in incumbent chief minister Raman Singh's regime since 2003.

Strangely, unlike other five BJP-ruled states, MP has been spared of any controversy, despite the fact that it too prohibits sale of meat for two days during Paryushan Parva every year. Sale of meat in MP is banned on as many as 17 days every year by an order of the state government issued on May 18, 1990. The days include not only Hindu and Jain religious events like Hanuman Jayanti, Mahavir Jayanti, first and last days of Paryushan Parva and Ram Navami, but also national holidays like Gandhi Jayanti, Independence Day and Republic Day.

Though the law was implemented by the BJP government of Sunderlal Patwa, it was carried on by the successive Congress governments of Arjun Singh, Motilal Vora and Digvijay Singh. The subsequent BJP governments of Uma Bharati, Babulal Gaur and Shivraj Singh Chouhan have allowed the law to be enforced.

So, why the brouhaha this time around?

The prime reason is that the days of the meat ban were extended by the Mira-Bhayandar Municipal Corporation. Secondly, it comes close on the heels of the beef ban imposed in states like Maharashtra and Haryana by the respective state governments, and in Jammu and Kashmir - where the BJP is running a coalition government with the PDP - directed by the high court. Though it appears that the BJP-ruled states have been competing with each other to take such decisions to please Hindus and RSS, and were against the economic and social interests of the Muslims. This is not the case.

In no state has the law been implemented for the first time. Sadly, the BJP-ruled Centre and the five states are being blamed for it. The BJP seems to be losing a war of perception over this issue for no fault of its own.


Kumar Shakti Shekhar Kumar Shakti Shekhar @shaktishekhar

Delhi-based journalist with more than 20 years of experience in reporting for print, TV & digital media.

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